Blogs Adam on The Amateur Gourmet after trekking up to Sarabeth’s on Central Park South for a brunch of a single waffle that cost $14:
“That’s an outrageous amount of money to pay for a can of pumpkin mixed with flour and egg and sugar and plopped into a waffle iron, flipped on to a plate and topped with sour cream and honey and pumpkin seeds and strawberries. But it’s an indulgence that seems to be worth indulging in. We know we can probably make brunch food at home (and investing in a waffle iron could probably save you a fortune for all the waffles you wouldn’t have to order on Sunday mornings) but that’s not the point. The point of brunch is that it’s social, it’s communal: when you stand with the crowd on Central Park South waiting to savor the sweetness of syrup and pastry and strong bitter coffee, you feel like you’re part of the world. And after you’re seated and your food comes and it starts to rain you join everyone in laughing and running inside.”
Nicely put, but with all due respect to this viewpoint, Adam, I beg to differ. (Or should I say, I blog to differ?) Isn’t this logic saying that we’re also a part of the world when we pack ourselves onto the subway or wait on a smelly platform for it? Or go through a day of work?
We all have our own reasons for cooking and for eating out, and my reason for cooking is just that, well, I’ve had enough of being part of the world for the whole 10-or-more-hour day that I’m at work and on subways. And of having a lot of unwanted bodily contact with the world as we cram into hot subways, brush another’s shoulders on the street, get poked with the same brochures and serenaded by the same bums. And of noisy neighbors, and waiting in lines at grocery stores as we all watch a cashier try to swipe a card through the reader 800 times (is this some kind of plague in NYC – that card readers are so bad at detecting strips?). And when I haven’t had enough of the world, I’ll go out and see some music and get a drink with friends.
Basically, what I’m looking for in this frenetic city is a little more zen. And I don’t mean the moment of zen that Jon Stewart refers to at the end of The Daily Show. I realize that my cooking habit can be a little reclusive–I like to call it my zen-out time where I am focused on a single task at hand and could care less about the rest of the world. And usually, the two worlds do not collide. If my roommate or boyfriend’s around, they usually shirk to the back of the living room while I’m in the middle of a meditation. Even my roommate’s cat keeps his distance. The world slips back, sounds drone in becoming one, and my hands are fast in action, a game of efficiency and attention to detail.
But there are other times, especially when I’m with my family, when cooking is a communal activity. Of course, there’s lots more ways to zen out too, like practicing yoga, or the cello. So to each his own.
I guess what I’m saying is that if I want to wait in line for service and listen to other people’s squawking conversations and depend on someone to refill my water, I want that to be a conscious choice I make, and not something mandatory each time I have a meal. And if you don’t have space for a yoga mat, like me, or a piano, or cello, a teensy tiny kitchen is one shrine to zen that I can at least hold the landlords responsible for.
(What are some of yours?)