Know why you cook


I wanted to share a bit of a musing with you today – something that’s been simmering away in my thoughts. I stumbled upon a couple of scribbled ideas, tucked away in my decade old notebook, that seemed like an unlikely pairing, but turned out to be a recipe for inspiration.

One was about a talk by the brilliant René Redzepi, the genius behind Noma, speak about his journey. Noma was touted as one of the Best Restaurants in the World with a collection of Michelin stars, the Nordic haven where foraged ingredients and local flavors take center stage. Redzepi believes in cooking with the rhythm of the seasons, using what the earth offers in each “time and place.”

The other was a quote from Gustave Flaubert about writing being a journey of self-discovery, “The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe”. Now, these two things might seem worlds apart at first glance – one about cooking with conviction, the other about finding your voice through words.

Redzepi’s talk was full of surprises,  like the time he transformed a gnarled carrot into a culinary masterpiece. Imagine, a carrot, treated with the same respect as a prime cut of meat! He also shared tastes of pickled rose petals and ramp buds, which, let me tell you, were quite the adventure for the taste buds.

You see, René’s story is about knowing why you cook – about finding the passion and purpose that drives you. Flaubert’s quote, on the other hand, suggests that sometimes we discover our beliefs through the act of creating. Now, here’s where it gets interesting. Flaubert’s quote about writing seems to suggest you discover your beliefs as you write.

So, which is it? Do we need to know our “why” before we start, or do we find it along the way? I reckon it’s a bit of both.

You can’t truly understand your passion for cooking, writing, or anything else, unless you’re elbow-deep in the flour or lost in a world of words. But at the same time, reflecting on your “why” is what gives your work depth and meaning.

We can’t really understand why we cook until we’ve spent hours chopping, stirring, and tasting. We can’t know the depths of our passion until we’ve burnt a few cakes or over-salted a stew. But it’s equally important to reflect on what drives us. What are those little beliefs that simmer away in the back of our minds as we create?

It’s like the difference between following a recipe and truly understanding the flavors at play. Both are essential to creating something delicious, something that nourishes both body and soul.

Whether you’re a budding chef or a seasoned writer, I implore you to delve deep into your passions. Discover your “why,” nurture it, and let it guide you. For in that knowing, you’ll find the true magic, the very essence of what makes your heart sing.

So, my friends, get out there and do what you love, and create something extraordinary, whether it’s whipping up a feast or filling pages with your thoughts. But don’t forget to pause and ponder the reasons behind it all. It’s in that quiet contemplation that the magic truly happens. The world is waiting to taste your unique flavor, to savor the words that flow from your soul.


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