Music: Subdivisions (Live), Rush
Game: Rock Band (360), Call of Duty 4 (PC), Assassin’s Creed (360), Hellgate London (PC), Ratchet and Clank (PS3), MMO Beta (PC)
Book: Heat, Bill Buford
Watching: Not much.
Weather: Cold, Blue Skies.
In a few short months, I will be 40 years of age.
I can’t even believe I wrote that…even less so that it’s true.
When I think about all the things I’ve done over the last 20 years, and all the things I’ve wanted to do, I realize that I probably COULD have done a chunk of them if I had committed myself to them earlier, and just done it.
Among the top of the list of things is definitely cooking professionally. I really love to cook. I read cookbooks like other people read novels. It’s pretty interesting that I actually rarely cook things from cookbooks (I do sometimes) but more often, the recipes inspire me when I do cook something.
I’m reading “Heat” now. It was written by a former editor/writer for the New Yorker, who decided he wanted to see what it was like to cook professionally, see the food world from the inside, and ended up working at Babbo, Mario Batali’s restaurant. The book is largely anecdotal, with plenty of insight into Batali and other things.
Up until a few weeks ago, I was still entertaining the idea of maybe trying cooking professionally. When I went to Olivier’s and Co, a really excellent olive oil shop, I guess my appearance and behavior led the manager to ask me if I was a professional chef. Of course, she could say that to everyone…but I still was a little flattered.
In any case, while reading Heat, I realized that I really couldn’t do it. Not any more, really. I don’t think I’m temperamentally suited to such a thing. I know I don’t have the kind of energy I used to. Motivationally, I don’t think I could really put in the kind of hours a restaurant would require. I do like the idea of working hours doing prep…seeing how a kitchen is run. But in reality? Probably not. Like anything else, work is work.
In one of my favorite books, Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson writes the following:
“Until a man is 25, he still thinks, every so often, that under the right circumstances he could be the baddest motherfucker in the world. If I moved to a martial arts monastery in China and studied real hard for 10 years. If my family was wiped out by Colombian drug dealers and I swore myself to revenge. If I got a fatal disease, had one year to live, devoted it to wiping out street crime. If I just dropped out and devoted my life to being bad.
Hiro used to feel that way, too, but then he ran into Raven. In a way, this is liberating. He no longer has to worry about trying to be the baddest motherfucker in the world. The position is taken. The crowning touch, the one thing that really puts true world-class badmotherfuckerdom totally out of reach, of course, is the hydrogen bomb. If it wasn’t for the hydrogen bomb, a man could still aspire. Maybe find Raven’s Achilles’ heel. Sneak up, get a drop, slip a mickey, pull a fast one. But Raven’s nuclear umbrella kind of puts the world title out of reach.
Which is okay. Sometimes it’s all right just to be a little bad. To know your limitations. Make do with what you’ve got. “
I take a lot of inspiration from that. It mirrors exactly how I feel. I used to think that if I just said “fuck it” and went off to do something, I could be awesome at it….but now, maybe it’s better that I enjoy it at my scale.
I’m still a good cook.
And Andy, I cook outdoors, on propane. While it doesn’t have the brute enjoyment of wood/charcoal, it does give me a lot more control, especially for true barbecuing, like ribs or pulled pork. I have a smoke box I use in the gas grill, and I get really good results.