I am sitting here attempting to update my resume. It should be an easy task, considering I got one promotion since I last looked at it. But I took some painkillers and my attention span is not all there (was it ever?). I stumble upon an article I wrote for an online contest to meet Anthony Bourdain years ago, which I posted on my old blog and I am reposting here. I enjoy sharing it over and over again because it was the piece which gave me the confidence to write publicly. I am always crossing my fingers Anthony Bourdain will run across it and want to have coffee with me (a gal can dream, can’t she?). Plus, this gives me a wonderful excuse to post a mouthwatering picture of maple bacon apple donuts from Dynamo Donuts. May you always be inspired to cook well and eat well, my friends.
Cooking Well – Why The Hell Not? ~ by Joy Pasamonte Henry
I should be able to provide a slam-dunk answer to the question of what it means to cook well. I LOVE food. I love eating it, cooking it, and discovering it. I should know the answer without batting an eyelash, as if I were nonchalantly telling you my date of birth. But the pressure of a Bourdanian-critique and my own ambition-driven mental flogging leave my typing fingers immobile and my creative prose barren.
My love affair with food began well before gastronomy was sexy chic. I was taught that food was sustenance, something to appease the grumbling in my belly and get me through the day. But I wanted it to be something more. Even at an innocent age, I wanted the food to speak to me, to offer up a taste of the unknown and make my heart skip a beat at having discovered something magical and belonging only to me. At restaurants, I would order what I hadn’t tried before because it sounded exotic and inspired (like maple-glazed bacon donuts sound to me today).
As my father’s job took our travels deeper into Southeast Asia, my hunger for finding food that tickled my senses and offered up an almost illicit euphoria grew immensely. A properly fried krupuk crunching slightly inside my mouth and cutting ever so slightly into my tongue, followed by a spicy, perfectly salted bite of my beloved Indonesian nasi goreng sent my salivary glands into a tailspin. The juicy, sweet burst of longanisa against the inside of my cheek was a welcome partner to the garlic rice and fried egg already tumbling within my mouth. I became, at an early prepubescent age, a food whore.
A food whore struggling to find the perfect words to say what it means to cook well.
At a deeper glance, at 4:30 in the Godforsaken a.m., when I’m hoping for J.D.Salinger to take possession of my writing self and it doesn’t come close to happening, I calm the hell down and the answer comes to me. We cook well because we can. We embark on a culinary adventure in the kitchen, whether it is on a daily basis to feed a starving, overworked family or on that special occasion to impress your equally food-obsessed friends, because we have the skills and the means. So why the hell not do it well?
The ability to wield and manipulate the simplest of ingredients to concoct the most complex of tastes goes beyond such carnal feelings as love, desire, and passion. Cooking well fills our soul with a healthy dose of accomplishment and pride that spills over into the food we cook. It is a glimpse into who we are at that precise moment. In a world that shoves us in to all sorts of gut wrenching mediocrity, eating and cooking well are simple acts of taking everyday life by the cojones and saying, “Screw you. This is going to be f***ing extraordinary.”