Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Master of My Domain

I like being in charge of the stove. I like being the one to chop things the size and shape I want them. I want to be the one mixing the marinades and seasoning the food and setting up my assembly line the way I like. I'll spend a half hour scouring the stove top or scrubbing a dirty grill so that everything is just right for me to cook the food. I don't find it to be a chore. I find it enjoyable, and I'm flattered when people ask me to cook.

I am the master of my domain.

On the other hand, sometimes other people want a go at the grill, and when that happens, I step aside and let them have their chance. Does it irk me? After I spent all that time prepping the food and cleaning my work area? Sure, it does. I also know the feeling of not having a turn when I want one soooo bad, so it behooves me to give someone else a try if they want one.

Even if they aren't doing it right. Even if they have no idea what they're doing. Even if they are burning my beautiful food to a crisp- you can't always be the one manning the stove. It used to really bug me before. I would walk away, sit in a corner and scowl to my heart's content. It didn't really get me anywhere, and I usually end up having to eat the catastrophe that took place on my cooking station. So, I've had to catch myself in the act, and try to be a grown-up about it......Even though it's soooooo not fair!!

Unfortunately, I have this unbending sense that I must be polite at all times. I often smile and say, "That's ok. It's fine" when really, those are the last two things I'm really thinking or feeling. I end up brooding about it, but I have no one to blame but myself because I let it happen.

This similar scenario took place, and like a trained dog, I stepped aside and handed the tongs over to someone else who wanted to have a go. In fact, whenever it was time to rustle up some food, I found another person already standing in MY place with cooking utensil in hand and a roaring fire going. Society dictates that we all must get along and there will always be circumstances where you will have to give and take. Fine.

I admit, however, that I don't like NOT being master of my domain. I don't like someone else standing in my spot. It makes me not want to eat the food they are cooking or compliment their hard work; two courtesies I always extend to anyone who cooks me a plate of food. (Treat others the way you would like to be treated...or something like that, right?)

I find a lot of the time, when people cook and they know I went to culinary school, they almost feel as though they need to give me their culinary resume as to WHY they are just as skilled as I am to burn some food. Hey, I don't think I need to man the helm because I went to school. I like being in charge of the cooking because I LOVE doing it. It has nothing to do with my education or my experience. We all have our little things that we love to do, and this is just one of mine. That's all.

With a new wave of Foodies crawling all over the place, I've met more than my fair share of people who feel as though they need to run down all the equipment in their kitchen, all the recipes they've made, all the dishes they've brought out that EVERYONE loved, and any other food-related experience they've had...finishing it up with, "But I'm sure none of my stuff is as good as yours!"

Why do people do that? Hell, there are about a MILLION things out there that are better than mine. I usually cook to my taste, which means that there are going to be many people who don't care for what I just made because they don't enjoy the same things tasting the way I do. That's called variety and that's okay.

People make me feel like the biggest asshole sometimes because I don't enjoy what they make. It doesn't mean it's bad or horrific. It just means I didn't like it. I'm one person amongst a total of billions on this planet. My word is not law. Most of the time, I'm lying and insisting how awesome something is even if it's too bland, too salty, or missing something. I recognize how hard they worked on their dish, how proud they are of what they accomplished, and how nervous or excited they are for me to taste it. Unless you're a complete dick, I'll tell you it's great. If I know you well enough, I may suggest a pinch more cilantro or a touch more pepper, but you will never feel badly after my critiques. I'm not here to make anyone feel bad. I'm not an Iron Chef. No one should be made to feel as though they are less than anyone else out there.

Have I been rude to people in the past? Of course I have. Like I said, we are infested with a new breed of Foodie out there. The kind of people who feel they are superior to most others because they spend a lot of money at restaurants, they spend a lot of money on fancy ingredients, because they "make their own peanut butter", or because there has never been anything under-seasoned, overcooked, or un-garnished coming out of their kitchen. Come at me with a mightier-than-though culinary boner and I will pick your meal apart bit by bit until the only thing I can compliment is that you actually cooked edible food and not rocks or twigs. I can be that Foodie Bitch if I'm provoked. Sometimes it's warranted. 

I don't like those people very much. I have tweaked other people's recipes, and I'd say 9 times out of 10, I've had very happy people thank me for my input, and the changes I suggested made it into their tried and true dishes. That 10th person is usually the obnoxious Foodie who thinks their gas doesn't stink after they down their homemade black bean salsa. Everyone's farts stink after partaking in that monstrosity.

I don't know what prompted me to write this post. I'm just very tired. I have many sleepless nights and working weekends coming up this summer. In a way, I'm glad. The weariness and work is enough of a distraction to keep me focused on my ultimate goal. I just have to put my head down and forge on.

Sometimes things that were great in the past were great because of the people who were there or because of the time it was all taking place. When you try and go back to relive those moments you are hit with a sense of disappointment when it doesn't live up to the greatness of what it was in your mind. Some people are gone for good. New people are not as enjoyable. The place isn't exactly how you pictured it in your mental photo album. As devastating as it is to realize that things will always continue to change, and it may not always be a happy moment, we all just have to roll with it and try to hope that there are new people, new experiences, and new mental pictures waiting around the corner.

We don't always have control over what life takes away or brings to us. The bigger picture is that we have to remember that even though we don't have control of the helm every minute of every day; we will still always be master of our own domain.

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