A bouquet of spices and oak greet my nose as I swill a bulbous glass of petit syrah. The deeply purple hue resembles black when peered from the bottom of the stemware, but the rim fluid is a gorgeous jeweled-tone maroon. This afternoon is one of stillness and solitude. The balcony door is wide open, welcoming the bright but pleasantly mild autumn sunlight. There’s enough chill in the air to warrant a light sweater. Cool days like these lend a more relaxed atmosphere.
When my weekends are a blank slate, open to whatever I wish and deem to occupy it, I often find myself either reading at my dining table with my morning coffee, or curled upon the sofa with a contemplative essay or two. It is time that I utilize to reboot myself intellectually and creatively.
Some weekends I wish to do nothing but rest. Other weekends I wish to cook and prepare meals all day long, whether it be for an intimate gathering of friends or just me.
When I am inspired to bring out the pots and pans, dice garlic and uncork a bottle of wine, I do so with gusto. I lay the table with my finest wares. There’s music in the background; depending on my mood the playlist can be big band, classical piano, or a mix of 80’s pop.
I’m the chef, the maitre’d and the sommelier.
Cooking is a time for me to set aside the collective fuss that’s been compiled over the week and just focus on the sights and smells around me. I tune my ears to the sizzle of the onions. Does the heat need to be adjusted? I smash garlic cloves and feel their sticky juice on my fingertips. My kitchen becomes a symphony of sounds and aromas. I waltz, reaching for the refrigerator, sprinkling a little of this into the sauce pan, putting a jar back into the pantry, chopping the rest of that, adjusting the stove’s heat, giving the pot a few stirs, dumping vegetable peelings into the trash, washing bowls, stirring the sauce, adding a dash of that and washing more dishes.
There is beauty and satisfaction in executing a meal with the confidence of knowing that it will please the taste buds. Savoring the work of your hands is great accomplishment.
I cook for pleasure. I cook for adventure. I cook to transform a droll-drum day into an exquisite feast.
Cooking is a sort of magic. It is an euphoria.
I cook to bring happiness and a heightened enjoyment to life.
All images © 2013 Sriprae P. McDonald