This I Believe

Larisse-Ann - Hillsborough, California
Entered on October 9, 2007

The most important lesson my grandmother has ever taught me is to “scrape everything.” The mark of every true culinary master, she explains, stems from this dogma. My grandmother is a true culinary expert, so I listen to her. I religiously scrape every last bit of every mixing bowl, honey jar, and brownie pan until scraping has become second nature.

Just as “scrape everything” plays a significant role in my passion for cooking, it permeates just about everything else I do. The kitchen, to me, symbolizes a perfect harmony between rational and irrational, logic and imagination, science and art. With scraping as second nature, I am free to unleash my creativity. Just like any other art, cooking is a symbiotic relationship. It is my art, my form of expression, and my emotional outlet, and the product is there for everyone to enjoy.

I suppose I should explain how I started all this scraping business. It’s part evolving interest and curiousity and part genetics. Let’s be honest here. I’m surrounded by foodies on both sides. My mom’s side founded and runs a bakeshop and restaurant, and my dad’s side—well, if you knew my dad and his four sisters, you’d understand. What it really comes down to is that we love food. Everything about it: the taste, the smell, the diversity, the culture, the environment. Both my parents told me that whomever I marry must be a foodie, otherwise the marriage would be doomed to hell.

And so I naturally took to the kitchen as early as the age of twelve. The summer before my sophomore year in high school marked the height of the age of experimentation. It was an era of under-baked-banana breads, fallen soufflés, and bland roast chickens. With guidance and wisdom from my family, random cookbooks, and of course, the internet, I eventually learned how to distinguish the fine line between making food and creating art. I’ve even gleaned a reputation among my schoolmates, volleyball teammates, and teachers. They never complained about being the guinea pigs of whatever creation came out of “Lara’s kitchen,” and I still secretly look forward to the “oohs!” and “mmmm!” So while I still have a ways to go before attaining the status of a bonafide master chef, I must pay homage to those two words that have carried me thus far.

Now, the question is: why scrape? Well, the simple answer is: it’s all chemistry. It’s logical, practical, and responsible. It is necessary to use every last ounce of those eggs, every last morsel of butter so as not to upset the precious balance of dry and wet ingredients. But really, truly, and absolutely, I believe in scraping because I want to live my life knowing I used one hundred percent of what was given to me and whatever new ingredient, skill, or teaching comes my way. I believe in tasting anything with open eyes. I believe in savoring every last bit. I believe in scraping everything.