I’ve been thinking about cycles of life. Or, more specifically, the past couple of days I’ve been thinking about cooking. Let me explain.
In graduate school, at the end of each semester, I would lose my mind and cook a few outrageously complicated meals, to compensate emotionally for the lack of cooking I’d done in the previous few months. Empanadas. Pies. Roasts. I never did a soufflé, but if you think about how the idea of a soufflé makes you feel (terror, agency, power, the horrible sublime) that’s the mood I was looking for. Once, while home at my dad’s house for Christmas, I baked a grapefruit tart that didn’t come out of the oven until midnight.
Although I am no longer in school, my mind still strains to apply that logic to cooking. Let’s call it a feast-or-famine mentality, though perhaps a more accurate title would be feast-or-feast-that-someone-else-prepared-like,-let’s-say-Seamless-or-a-frozen-pizza. For months at a time, cooking—and even more than cooking, grocery shopping—feels oppressive to the point of impossible, and then, one day, I decide on three or four complicated dishes that I must have immediately, and prepare them with almost no angst at all.
I wonder if this is a mentality I’ve developed because of writing: working slowly and painfully through revisions and then drafting something new in one great fever. (To be honest, I don’t hate revision as much as that makes it sound, but it can digest you from within, if you get too much in your head about it.) Perhaps this is a coping mechanism that keeps me alive through periods of self-doubt: the knowledge that spring will come to the mind, whether in terms of literature or culinary insight. If so, I can live with it. I don’t really mind eating frozen pizza, anyway. It’s like watching too much tv: it got me this far.
Anyway, last night I made fancy ginger turmeric meatballs. Tonight I will make soup. Tomorrow, who knows. Honestly, I did not intend to drape the metaphor of my cooking habits over the skeleton of my writing, when I started typing this out. But now that I have, I am perhaps a little bit excited. Last night I made ginger turmeric meatballs. Tonight I will make soup. Tomorrow, who knows.