We just finished watching the movie Julie/Julia again, and the “Making of” on the DVD. I saw the movie when it came out in 2009, but didn’t think to read the book. I read the book in December, and found it funny, interesting, and a great story about learning how to cook. So I had to watch the movie again.
During the “Making of” part on the DVD, they mentioned how Julia Child was a fearless human being, and that cooking makes you fearless. The discipline demands it from you.
Last month, I realized that my fear was gone. Not that healthy fear that keeps me away from scary crack dens, and out of a stranger’s car. But the kind of fear I carried around for years because of the abuse I suffered as a child, and just the crap the world feeds us through the media, and other outlets of information. The fear that crawled around inside my skin and jumped out and attacked me at the most inopportune times. This paralyzing, numbing fear is gone.
When they said that cooking makes you fearless, I teared up, went in the kitchen and cried a little. I remember thinking the other day that cooking took away my fear, and there, someone said it on the making of a movie.
Cooking changes you. It can transform you. You do not belong to yourself. You belong to the food you make, the recipes you discover, the flavor combinations. You belong to the people you cook for, whether they are nameless and faceless, or your intimate partners and family. You are what you discover in cookbooks and recipes online. You belong to the process of discovering new tastes. And you become something more than what you were before you cooked (if there was such a time).
Maybe this doesn’t happen to every cook. Maybe not to every chef. But the good ones, the ones I admire, the chefs and cooks breaking their hearts on their knives and saute pans, the ones that lost fear because of food, these are my heros.
Cooks wield knives and fire. We show up day after day to feed the masses, crunching out order after order, cooking meal after meal for family and friends. We create food for banquets, party food for the holidays and football celebrations. For almost any and every “special” occasion, some cook somewhere in the world makes food for that day, that event, that occasion. It takes guts to give up your holidays and cook all the food that is required for other people. And actually wanting to create the food people eat on those days. Stop and think about it. Who made those chocolates for your Valentine’s Day Sweetheart. Who made that birthday cake, or cooked those chicken wings, or whipped together that Christmas Dinner. Did you stop to thank them? They are the Fearless, cooking shift after shift, meal after meal, day after day, so you don’t have to.
This is how I lost my fear. I lost it in my knife handle becoming an extension of my hand. I lost it in the saute pan leaping fire into my face and singeing my eyebrows. I lost it on the char-broiler with the fat from that steak dripping off and flaming up. I lost it in the plate I created for the photograph on this blog. I gave my fear up to the food I create and it became Passion.