Years ago, I posted a Reason of the Month that had to do with cooking becoming contagious amongst friends. It was a natural domino effect, I surmised, that occurred when one household threw a dinner party and an invited one felt obliged (or inspired? I hoped) to replicate soon after, then another, and another. This time, I’m writing about that particular strain of culinary infection that not only conquers one’s social circle, but his or her own life, career, and for stretches at a time, every waking minute. It’s the one that I’m suffering from right now. And I couldn’t be happier, be it a sickness or strength.
I’m cooking too much anyway to eat out — or post about a particularly good meal, because another one needed to be made right after, then after. This might sound familiar to those who work in food to some extent, like a cook, a caterer, or a food stylist. But with the holiday season approaching, perhaps you’ll find yourself in a position where cooking envelops your life for a day or more, too. It’s an adrenaline rush where once you start, you don’t know how to stop, and that momentum is much like a domino effect, too. Nonstop thinking and obsessing about food in between the actions of preparing it, for long stretches of time.
I’ve been working on a cookbook lately, and it’s been fun work, but a lot of it. I kicked off the recipe testing for it by throwing a number of “test kitchen” dinner parties for friends. We sampled dozens of dishes that may or may not make it into the finished cookbook (or some form of them will), in the comforts of a home setting, the perfect arena for honest feedback. Then, I headed right into a three-day food photography session for the book, which required cooking the food as well. It was fun, but at the end of each day, I was glad these tasks involved food that was totally edible and plentiful. We ate it all, and in the process, cleaned out my kitchen’s supply of basic pantry staples a couple times over.
What an exhilarating run. No, one does not need to eat out when cooking anyway. Even the leftovers that we couldn’t possibly eat more of by the end of each day’s production were repurposed into meals later, with a few tweaks. I’m sure there’s a breaking point for every cook, when they just want to be pampered at a nice restaurant. That’s understandable, but it doesn’t have to be a cliche. The biggest reward for me about feeding on food that’s made otherwise (for production purposes, friends or clients, or just a lot of leftovers) is knowing that I’d eat it just as well. It is the reward. You’ve earned it, anyway.
So now that those whirlwind weeks are behind me, I’ve taken off to another country to continue working on the book’s photography. It’s a cookbook about the food of Taiwan, so that’s where I am currently. More on its progress to come, especially when its publication approaches (it’ll be more than a year from now, though). In the meantime, nicks and burns are healing from my hands until the next furious round of kitchen gymnastics.