When I started cooking in earnest, and got up the courage to have friends over to share in my efforts, the question was always, “Have you always liked to cook?” The easy answer was to deflect and say that my passion for cooking was a recent awakening, something I probably inherited from my home economics teacher mother.
The more I cooked, the more I explored new dishes and techniques, the more I entertained over meals, the more the history of my being in the kitchen, and liking it, came to the surface. In college, it started when I moved into an apartment, and tried, with limited experience and even fewer tools, to be a really efficient cook. When home for holidays, breaks, and summer vacation, I would occasionally have some friends over, taking the opportunity to experiment with dishes I’d heard of, had never had, but wanted to try and experience. Beef Stroganoff will do that to you, if you’ve got the curiosity; so will Shrimp Newburg.
When my wife’s health took her out of our home, and with the encouragement of my daughter, who loves to cook and always has, cooking for myself, and ultimately for others as well, flourished.
Growing up, meals were almost always taken as a family – breakfast, dinner, and supper (now breakfast, lunch, and dinner). Fraternity life in college added its version of that pattern, and at least one meal a day was in the fraternity house dining room, all seated and dining together. I’ve gone full circle, and though I do eat many meals by myself, the sheer joy of preparing a meal to be enjoyed with others at my table, with the resulting experience of a good meal, good friends, and good conversation, is a driving force behind my continuing journey and growth. Taking it into the realm of the existential, the greater impact of food, and its ability to bring us together, hangs like a guiding light, ever on the horizon.