Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Cooking: A Relationship With My Knife
I just started a six-week culinary course. I am very excited about this new adventure because I don't really know much about cooking and I'm eager to learn.
But I had no idea that cooking would feel a little like dating and that I’d be in a relationship with my knife.
And I didn’t realize I’d want to break up with cooking before the second date.
Just like any first date, the evening started out so promising. A thunderstorm was brewing and I congratulated myself on arriving ahead of the storm. But I was at the wrong location and by the time I found the class even though I had an umbrella, I was soaked.
Everyone in the class was already wearing their aprons and nametags and somehow no one was wet or disheveled like I was.
My high hopes were sinking lower by the minute when I couldn’t even figure out how to untie my apron that was rolled into the size of a croissant with the strings tucked tightly inside.
Our first task was to chop an onion. As the chef demonstrated the wonder of a new ceramic knife, he cautioned us to be careful if we dropped it since it would shatter.
He told us a few lucky stations would be equipped with ceramic knives.
Hoping I could handle just a regular old knife, I was dismayed to see that indeed my station contained a ceramic knife.
The chef complimented everyone’s skills but waved his knife in my direction.
“First you should probably peel the skin off the onion,” he said. “We don’t really want to eat crunchy onions in our French onion soup.”
I felt like all eyes were on me as I belatedly tried to strip off the skin. I imagined my cooking-mates making a mental note to avoid eating whatever I contributed.
We then learned to dice, chop and julienne carrots, potatoes, celery and leeks. Respectful of my ceramic knife, I carefully worked. Everyone seemed to be successful with their knives while the chef pointed out my errors.
I wasn’t holding the knife correctly. I chopped at the wrong angle. I wasn't holding my hands in the proper position. He said I was at risk for losing a few fingers.
Finally he said, “Your problem is that you are not controlling the knife, the knife is controlling you.”
Trying to control my deflated spirits (instead of worrying about my knife), the chef said to me, “Hey, cooking is supposed to be fun!”
The chef was right. I wasn't having much fun.
I questioned why I ever thought I could take a step outside my comfort zone and learn to cook.
I doubted that I was made for cooking and figured maybe I should just give up.
I wondered how this could be a beginner's class since it seemed like all of my classmates already knew how to cook.
But I had to stop. Stop comparing myself to everyone else.
To salvage the night and learn something new, I knew I had to view this course as an opportunity for growth, purpose and adventure.
But isn't that how I feel when I let God control my life instead of managing it on my own?
I want to keep things safe and secure.
I want to know the risks involved before I commit.
I want to know how difficult it’s going to be and if it will turn out okay before I say yes.
But that's not usually how God works. When he's in control of my life plan, he controls the outcomes.
An adventure with God is not safe because he wants to make me brave.
It’s not predictable because he asks me to trust him.
It’s not easy because he asks me to engage my faith.
The more I learn about his mysterious ways, the more he seems to be asking me to go beyond my ordinary. Step out of my normal and reach way on the other side of my usual.
Instead of being careful, he wants me to face life with courage and move forward without knowing all the answers.
As in any relationship, there are days that make the heart soar high and nights that make the tears stream down.
But God promises to be there with me through it all.
For the rest of my cooking class, I tried to silence the whispers of my insecurities and tell myself that I did belong here. I was determined to learn how to cook. It was just going to take me a little more practice.
I zested some limes for our homemade pico de gallo and sautéed onions for soup.
My hair was a casualty of the sizzling onions, though since the pungent aroma enveloped it.
I went home and tried to wash the onion fragrance out of my hair. I got in bed, pulled the covers up over my head and cried. But I wasn't going to quit.
And still all I could smell were the onions.
I’ve spent the week thinking about cooking and knives. It’s complicated.
But complicated relationships are often worth pursuing.
So I'm not going to break up with cooking.
I'm not going to let my knife control me.
I'm going back for my next class.
And maybe I’ll even be ready for an exclusive relationship with my knife by the second date.