Saturday, December 28, 2013
Joy of Cooking
For the final article of this year, I would like to share this story. Hope we learn something out of it …
Once upon a time, before I went to college, my mother worried. I didn't know how to prepare what she called ‘any decent meals.’ So she bought me a copy of ‘Joy of Cooking’, and sat me down to watch and learn. She opened the cookbook to a favorite recipe and began to show me how to make it.
“Have it says use vegetable oil, but I always use olive oil.” And then “here it says use chili peppers, but I always leave those out, because the dish gets too spicy.”
And on it went. Just like that.
“It says here to add salt, but never do that … salt is bad for your heart.”
After some time, I interrupted the process.
“What is the point of the recipe if you do whatever you want anyway?” I asked.
And then, as sometimes happened in my mother’s bright green kitchen, a pearl of wisdom was passed down to me in the uniquely memorable way.
“Listen to your mother. A meal becomes good by starting with quality instructions. It becomes great when you add a quality chef.”
Since the day more than twenty years ago, I've come to understand my mother’s teaching as a proverb that applies far beyond cooking. Actually, it applies to every important activity in our lives.
In negotiating the highways and byways of life, recipes can take us only so far. Beyond getting the right ingredients or dutifully following instructions, to become a ‘quality chef’ … in cooking and in life, we need to reach beyond the fundamentals and learn to adapt, improvise, and innovate as life demands.
We need to use not only our utensils, our ‘best practices’ and techniques but also our inner strengths and deeper wisdom.
The key to mastery, to achieving greatness, in the kitchen or in life, is not your toolbox. It’s you.