Always Be Cookin’

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.

― Ira Glass

This struck the right cord when I read it for the first time.  The truth is, it applies to just about anything, and of course, to cooking as well.

My daughter — a six year old — is frequently saying things like “why can’t I cook like you”, or “why can’t I play piano as good as you”.  All I can do is offer her the same advice — practice makes perfect, and keep on going, and try, try again.  No one starts off great, I am sure even Mozart didn’t start writing symphonies before he learned to play a simple tune with one finger.

A grainy picture of my very first sourdough bread

This quote by Ira Glass has done more for me than years of studying piano, years of learning from the best, and years of having personal and professional successes and disappointments.  It’s so simple, yet many fail to see that practice does, indeed, make perfect.

You may be a diamond in the rough, but in order to see yourself truly shine, you need lots of cutting and lots of polishing. It takes time and patience, and you have to make it all the way through that rough around the edges period, but when you do, oh how good it will feel then!..

47% Rye Bread from Wild Yeast Blog

Only until you find something else you need to work on...

Whole wheat batards with buckwheat

So, keep on cooking, whatever you are cooking; keep on cutting and polishing, or, in my case, keep on chopping and stirring, and writing about it.  And don’t you quit after your first burnt toast, after that lumpy gravy, and that flat cake!  Remember, you are a little Mozart learning your first tune, and your best work is always, always ahead of you.

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Categories: Challenge, Insanity, Just Ramblings, Messes, Well Worth The Effort

Author:Eat Already!

I am a cooking and writing addict born and raised in a cosmopolitan city on the Black Sea coast. Currently my interests include, but not limited to gardening, traditional nutrition, raw milk, fermentation techniques, books by Sitchin, Weston A. Price ideas, artisan bread making, anything handcraft, and many other, quite random, things. I believe in making things from scratch, in unpretentious dishes, visually un-altered food esthetics. I believe in reporting on daily cooking endeavors, not just on special occasion dishes. I believe everyone should learn how to cook at home because it's a great way to connect with your loved ones without saying too much, with your heritage without becoming an archivist, and with the world without learning languages...

4 Comments on “Always Be Cookin’”

  1. May 6, 2013 at 10:56 am #

    My first quilt, my first poem, my first weeks of bowing open strings and sounding unlike Itzhak Perlman. My first attempts at creating have always left me judging myself harshly. This is a wonderful quote and a beautiful message to keep in mind. Thanks!

  2. May 8, 2013 at 12:38 pm #

    I’ll have to remember this quote, especially when I look at your beautifully slashed loaves of bread. I can’t slash bread to save my life, even though I’ve looked up tips on the Internet on how to do it just so. Some people recommend a lame, some a razor, some a particular angle, but my slashes disappear during baking. (My latest theory is I’m just not doing them deep enough.) But I’ll continue to bake bread, and one day I’ll get them as beautiful as yours! In the meantime, I’ll console myself with the fact that at least my bread tastes good, even if the slashes aren’t right. :) -Shirley at What About Second Breakfast?

    • May 8, 2013 at 1:06 pm #

      I am still trying my best to get the slashing right. Three things that work for me — slash right before baking unless recipe states otherwise, slash 1/2″ deep (at least), and you can do it with sharp knife, you just need to do it very quickly. I use razor sometimes, but it sticks and stretches and pulls the bread with it, knife works better for me.

  3. June 2, 2013 at 2:33 pm #

    It took me like 10 years to learn to cook properly, and most of that was because I was shoved into a culture that didn’t have the premade foods I was used to eating. Great article. It really does take time and effort.

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