Food For Thought

Julia - Havertown, Pennsylvania
Entered on October 20, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
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Open the fridge and pick out a rainbow. Pick anything, and with some creative arranging you’ll come out with something you didn’t know you could create. Endless possibilities lie in the vegetables, fruits, grains, seasonings, and sauces. The ability to start from nothing and end at something wonderful, something homemade that others can enjoy fills me with a sense of pride and accomplishment. Anyone without special training can take a recipe and build its steps into a dish. This is why the end result is so magical and special. You put your hard work into it and its there, gleaming and steaming, but then its gone into the tummies and memories of those you’ve shared it with. For that one moment it was on the plate, you were responsible for creating that masterpiece. The fruit of your labors is out there in front of you in all its glory, and good food can make even the most downtrodden believe in themselves for just a second. That is why I ?believe in cooking.

From the time I was very little, I was a culinary creator. I could spend hours in the kitchen combining anything and everything: eggs, flour, fruit juice, salad dressing, chocolate milk, and whatever else was available to me. It all would go in a blender, then into the freezer where it became a frozen block. I never attempted to eat it, not because my six-year-old self didn’t want to, but because I was so impressed with the tangible thing I’d created I couldn’t bear to see it go down any throat, not even mine. Good thing it didn’t though, or I’d have been headed to the nearest hospital. Eventually it started to smell, and Mom put it down the garbage disposal. But as grotesque as she thought it was, in my eyes, it was the best thing ever because I was the one who had made it.

As I grew older and my choice of ingredients grew more refined, I could actually make things that were edible. I made omelets with green and red peppers, mushrooms, cheese, and sausage. I painstakingly slaved over french toast, sprinkling cinnamon and sugar on to the warm raisin bread. My adventurous self even tried black and white cookies. But even as I threw the burnt remains of those cookies away, I was proud of my accomplishments. I continued to cook because with each success, I was even more amazed that what was there on the table had been put together with the simplest of things and an ambition. It gave me the feeling that anything was possible if this something, this delicious breakfast sitting in front of me, started out as nothing, as two eggs and some vegetables. Cooking shaped my view on life and taught me to keep trying, after all, look at what my ventures in the kitchen had produced!

Eventually, my belief in cooking allowed my ambitious outlook to spread to other areas, like school and activities. The ideals that I had learned in the kitchen, that never-give-up attitude cooking had instilled in me, helped me soar. If I got a bad grade, it was okay because I would do better on the next test, like I did better on the next batch of cookies. I would keep practicing my tennis serves, like I had kept practicing how to flip pancakes. Cooking, like life, isn’t just a step from point A to point B. You really have to experience its ups and downs to appreciate the ?process and the end result, but that end result is special because it is all yours. I believe in the experiences and the moments that are fleeting, but create lasting memories. I believe in cooking as a metaphor for life, and that it can nourish the body as well as the soul.