I used to work as a waitress. In fact I worked for so long as a waitress that even after I put down my pad and mini apron for a short career as a housewife, I could not imagine that I would ever be able to do anything else. Even my career as a housewife, was really just an extension of being a waitress with added benefits and no pay.
In my mind however, I was an actor. Not because it was what I did, but because it was my intention.
As it was for a bunch of other well educated waiters, who worked with me. We imagined so hard and so much that we were what we had trained to be instead of what we were actually doing, that at some point, we didn’t really need to act to call ourselves an actor, we could just be one.
Waiter 1: What do you do?
Waiter 2: I’m a talk show host.
Waiter 1: Wow. Where do you work?
Waiter 2: There is so nothing out there.
Waiter 1: It’s ridiculous. Where are you looking?
Waiter 2: I need to fix my roots and do something with my teeth. Because I cannot believe the crap people that are actually on television and call themselves a talk show host.
Waiter 1: I know.
The problem that most people have with cooking can have similar roots–fear of failure, is the audience going to love what I do, and do I have time for this. The twist is, there is no claim to being a professional or even wanting to be a professional, people admit that they don’t necessarily love cooking, (but they can’t really remember) and then figure with their limited experience they should stay out of the kitchen. Because they can’t cook. Or, because they are not going to bring the house down with ingenuity. Or they are sick and tired of a house that doesn’t appreciate their efforts.
In the end, except for on Thanksgiving which probably has more SOS phone lines set up than any other day, most of America doesn’t cook. We watch it happen on TV, we heat things up, we wish we did, but the truth is, we don’t.
I say, just cook. The more you cook, the more you will be cooking. Throw it down that there is no take out this week, there is no frozen this week, and on one night (or more), the kitchen is available to the house so that they can cook for you. Pick a cookbook. Make 6 simple menus with reality in mind.
Buy only food that you love to cook with. Remember the difference between the love you might feel for a real live man that lives and breathes, and the love you might feel for one who is a character on your favorite television show, is the same as the difference between a real piece of chicken and a crushed up, re-formed, breaded and fried nugget in the shape of a dinosaur. Or a potato and a flake. Buy real food, and you are going to have a real commitment to cook it.
Meat doesn’t have to be anything more than roasted and plenty of vegetables can be served raw with a little salt and olive oil. Make some crazy sauces–red pepper coulis or salsa verde or gremolata. Just do it, do it, do it. Get up, do it. You can do it. And tell me how it goes.