I suppose that if I tallied up all of the hours I have spent in the activities that make up my life, reading and cooking would be towards the top of the list. I have found refuge, stimulation, and inspiration through the pages of books since childhood. I’ve only recently been able to see some qualities that reading and cooking share – and probably some of the reasons that I am drawn to both.
Resolution – Having just finished “The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo”, I am reminded how satisfying it can be to read of mystery. Is this person as they seem? What really happened? Who did what? The questions are answered by the end! And so it goes with cooking…Is this seafood really fresh? What will it taste like to use cumin in this dish? Will this souffle rise? And by the end of the meal, you most assuredly know the answers! People and circumstances can be elusive and murky – books and recipes offer a conclusion. Isn’t that awesome?
Community – Reading can seem like such a solitary activity, but in actuality reading connects me with people who mean so much to me. Robert and I often read the same books which leads to rich conversations and a sense of shared experiences. After years of hearing my kids read out loud, tentatively at first and now with confidence, now we discuss books and go to the library together. Book clubs also connect people and allow conversations that go beyond the superficial. Similarly, cooking can be both a solo pursuit and a tie that binds you to others. I love spending time with Robert in the kitchen, cutting ingredients with our girls to make soup, or teaching a cooking class. Reading and cooking both give me opportunities for both much-valued alone time and ways to connect with others. Isn’t that awesome?
Comfort – I recently re-read a book from my adolescence (was anyone else out there profoundly affected by “Are You There God it’s Me Margaret?” and almost all other Judy Bloom?) and I was surprised just how much I enjoyed it. Just as I had enjoyed it almost 30 (!?) years ago, I felt the same way about it now. I also find comfort in revisiting biblical passages that have affected me in the past. So too it goes with cooking – preparing something that you could do blindfolded and knowing how much you love it is so satisfying. For me scrambled eggs and chocolate chip cookies fall into this category. To be able to know where to go to experience something familiar and delightful…
Isn’t that awesome?