:: Life on Planet Dan-E ::

Thoughts, observations, and introspections from an art student waiter/bartender in South Beach. Arcane humor ensues.
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:: Thursday, February 25, 2010 ::

:: Why I Cook ::
I've been racking my brain trying to think of something to write. I have yet another four half-written posts saved up, yet it took almost two months before I found something worth writing about, and it wasn't even my idea. I read this great post from a blog read regularly and he got his inspiration from an enthusiastic food writer.

So why do I cook. I almost have too many reasons to list and while long posts aren't exactly new to me, I'll run down some of the more important points.

- I cook to eat. Seems like a resounding *DUH* right? But I love to eat and if you were to ever meet me, you can tell I don't miss meals often. Or ever. But other reasons range from my general disdain for most processed foods and microwave meals (it's been literally a decade since I bought one) all the way to health concerns. I also know what I like and therefore it's easy to make what I like.

- It's a hobby that I have a great deal of passion for. I love it, plain and simple. People I work with have asked why I don't pursue cooking as a profession. I think if I had to do it every day as a way to make rent, I would lose enthusiasm for it, having to grind away behind a hot line 8-10 hours a night, 5 nights a week. As it is now, if I don't feel like cooking I just stop by Five Guys or if I'm broke, whip up some eggs. Besides, I work in a restaurant where I get along with the cooks, it's also easy for me to pick up tips here and there.

- Cooking is an excuse to buy myself some great new kitchen knives. Also got a bamboo cutting board, a new honing steel, a cast-iron skillet and many entertaining evenings playing chef. (Ironically, as one of my goals for this year is to be more social, I'm wondering if this is a good thing.)

- Many waiters, after a long shift, like to drink themselves into oblivion or light up a joint. While I do love a good drink, cooking helps me to relax as much as a night out with friends and I get more of a kick from fixing a good meal.

- On that same note, If there's anything I love more than cooking, it's music. Few things make me happier than cooking while I have my favorite songs playing in the background. (I'm even happier when sipping on a good whiskey.)

- Personal fulfillment. I rarely cook for people and when I do, it's only for the closest of friends or a woman I'm dating. Even if I'm dicking around with a recipe and I need guinea pigs to sample my dish, I only invite the few friends I can actually spend more than 30 minutes with without needing booze to keep me interested. Along those lines, I've never cooked to impress a woman hoping she'll date me. As much effort as I put into my dishes, if a woman wants me to cook for her, she has to show me something. (And I don't mean her tits.)

(Though it might help.)

- I love trying something new and experimenting with ingredients. I remember how intimidating it seemed the first time saw Alton Brown butcher a whole beef tenderloin. I also remember trying it myself the first time and thinking to myself, "that's it?" and enjoying beef dishes the rest of the week. I remember the elation of braising lamb shanks for the first time. I especially remember finally learning how to precisely slice salmon into equally thin pieces with my new sashimi knife and the look on my buddy's face when he saw and sampled my hamachi.

- I enjoy the challenge. I'll make the best steak tartare you'll find outside a fine restaurant. My espresso-rubbed short ribs braised in chocolate stout and served over vanilla mashed potatoes is amazing. So is my own homemade tomato sauce. I received moans of approval from people who tasted my coriander crusted snapper with tequila-lime sauce and jalapeno parsnips puree. I can make my own salad dressings. And I've said many times; I make the best guacamole on the East Coast. But none of these came out great the first time and they all seemed difficult at first. And while I have these and a few other dishes I rotate through, I really don't know as much as most home cooks. I don't know the first thing about baking. I couldn't make a dessert from scratch other than opening a pint of Ben 'n Jerry's. And even though I'm good with red meats and fish, I can't do that much with chicken beyond frying up buffalo wings. That's the next hurdle I'm looking forward to.

- I cook because life is better those few minutes I spend in the kitchen. As much as I enjoy a good dining experience, food tastes just that much better when it's earned.

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:: Miscellaneous Ramblings by Dan-E at 12:08 AM [+] :: | 1 comments

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