Let Yourself Love What You Love

I love to read about the creative process of others.  It doesn't matter if they are painters, songwriters, bakers or bloggers.

Sometimes their process is directly related to their art, as is the case with Tamar Adler, in An Everlasting Meal .  Other times it is a lifestyle choice that encourages and supports an artist's ability to work regularly.

Tamar devotes a chapter to what she does when she finds herself occasionally in the fitful mood of resenting cooking.  "How to Build a Ship" explores her method for falling back in love with cooking when she's mad at it, or has simply forgotten why she ever loved it in the first place.

 My answer is to anchor food to somewhere deep inside you, or deep in your past, or deep in the wonders of what you love.
...I say:  Let yourself love what you love, and see if it doesn't lead you back to what you ate when you loved it...
...I may not remember what I ate...but I will remember how the day felt on my face, and my creative soft self will have been awakened.  So I listen hard.  I listen with the purpose of remembering.  And this digging into sounds and into days I have heard and felt roots future meals in the unchangeable truths of past ones.
...Tug your memories back into the kitchen with you and you'll find yourself less separate from the idea of making food.

I could quote you this whole chapter, it speaks to me so.  I love it because it commands you to make a connection between how you are feeling and what you are creating.  This inner search is a meditation on reawakening connection and purpose, more than a pursuit for new ideas (this is necessary, too, yet different.)

While reading this chapter, I recalled a startling food memory from a trip to Venice.  We were in a museum, and I was standing near an open window looking at something on display, when suddenly I smelled frying seafood.  I realized it was near lunchtime, and I could hear the clattering of plates from outside.  I went to the window and looked down to street level to see bright blue and red umbrellas shielding outdoor tables set for lunch at all the restaurants along the canal.

This vivid food memory stayed with me because of the contrast of being in a dusty, old museum, and being pulled by such life being lived in the present--elsewhere.  Sunshine, fragrant aromas, a cacophony of voices and clanking dishes, and color everywhere--outside.  It was so out of context, and yet so Italian.  In the States, museums are such sealed, artificial environments (as much as I love to look at art and artifacts!)

If I were to take this memory and Tamar's advice to heart, the point wouldn't be to run out and buy seafood to fry, but instead to think about how I felt standing in that museum at that moment.

 It actually makes me want to gather a bowlful of lemons.  Lemons are the color of sunshine, which was abundant at that moment, and which I crave regularly.  They go beautifully with seafood, and to me they represent Mediterranean cooking, my favorite cuisine.  I would probably make a shrimp or pasta dish with plenty of lemon and fragrant herbs, and set my table with blues and greens and yellows.  I would serve some chilled white wine, open a window, and sit with people who make me feel bright and happy.