I started cooking because I was too poor to do anything else. I couldn’t afford to meet friends for dinner. Or take up a new hobby. Or drive outside my 13-mile route to work at a local television station. Eating, however, was a necessary expense. So I borrowed cookbooks from the library, rolled up my sleeves, and started boiling water.
I kept cooking because it offered a sensory escape to the days I spent staring at a computer screen. I could type the most elegant sentence in the world, but it would still be black and white pixels followed by a silent, blinking cursor. When I make a risotto, I can feel the papery skin of the onion. I can smell the sweating garlic and evaporating wine. I can hear the low sizzle of the arborio rice toasting in butter. I can tell, with a glance, if it’s time to add more stock. When I take the first gooey bite, full of lemon zest and parmesan, I feel the unique satisfaction of creating something tactile.
I love cooking because it is full of strategy, technique, timing, and on-the-fly adjustments. I love the way it can transport you to another country or to your childhood home. I love its delicious marriage of left brain-right brain, transforming you into both a casual chemist and a bit of an artist. Every trip to the market becomes a tiny adventure, knowing you could make 10-thousand meals and never run out of things to cook.