I was born a foodie. It’s true. In early childhood on Sunday mornings, my Mom would sometimes make us french toast. One of my earliest memories was eagerly sitting with my siblings (six brothers and four sisters) awaiting my Mom to serve her buttery, milky, grilled “toast”. In the last moments before the breakfast would ceremoniously appear on our plates, my Mom would grab her tin container of cinnamon, and with an artistic attitude, give the toast a generous flourish of cinnamon. As soon as the toast would hit my plate, I recall studying the unique pattern the cinnamon created, and would glance over to one of my siblings to see what pattern was on their toast. Sometimes the pattern appeared to be in the shape of a cloud, or a banana, and once I imagined it looked like my Uncle Dom’s sweetly round face!
Through the years I have been blissfully admiring countless displays of food, considering both the visual appeal as well as how to create new flavors that complement each other, and most of all, looking forward to creating the work of art in the kitchen. It wasn’t until cooking shows featured on The Food Network appeared that I realized I had some “areas of opportunity” (to use a corporate expression I find amusing) in the kitchen.
Some people might feel defeated if they compare their cooking or baking skills to an Ina Garten or a Bobby Flay. Not me. I don’t fill the room with negative self-talk and instead celebrate my accomplishments, big and small. I say, “Bravo!” for being in the kitchen, rather than relying on take-out or a drive-thru. I recently made a new, exotic peanut-based soup, and I couldn’t have been more proud of the way the soup turned out. I allowed myself the generous compliment of, “Oooh…you’re really getting quite good at these interesting soup creations.”
So, I hope you’ll take my advice….enter the kitchen wearing a confident smile, and remind yourself of these truths: what really matters is engagement in the creative process, preparing good (and sometimes great) meals, and enjoying the company of people you love over a shared meal.
The next time you cook or bake something celebrate it, share it, and nurture your skills through giving yourself the kind, positive feedback you deserve.