Friday, February 25, 2011

Living Deliciously

Baby Arugula Salad with Roasted Peppers and Grilled Zucchini
One of the benefits of living your life backwards (I retired first, and then started working) is that when you get to be my age (58), you're just starting to hit your stride with what you want to do when you grow up. For me, it's about using everything I've learned and accumulated in my life to both earn a living and benefit great numbers of other people. Being a cook offers a terrific avenue for this, because I can benefit people in the immediate way ("Yum!") and in the long term way, which is by helping and encouraging them to learn to cook and eat at home.

Why is the latter important? Because although there will always be a place for tasting the unusual food prepared by great chefs in restaurants, real food is made at home. To understand the difference fully, compare the experience of watching a love story unfold on the screen in a movie theater, with the experience of having a real-time, real-life love affair--whereas the film version has choice locations, memorable lines, emotion-triggering music and all the lovers' quarrels at a safe distance, the real one is, well, real! There is a great deal of pleasure and convenience in having a meal prepared and served to you (and cleaned up after), but that convenience comes with a (shall we say) a less than ideal impact on your health (chefs are there to garner fame and make money, not look after your general wellbeing) and a significantly higher financial impact than you would tolerate from eating a home-cooked meal.

It's not hard to take control and rise to a level of cooking that outshines what most restaurants have to offer (especially the more affordable ones). It just takes a little practice, along with a few pointers and some encouragement from cooks like me. My hope is that by writing cookbooks, teaching classes and keeping at it, I will help turn the tide from popular reliance on cheap restaurants and processed foods, toward a return to cooking well and eating deliciously at home. That's always where you'll find the best and healthiest meals, regardless of your level of culinary expertise. I'm doing my part to make this possible, and it's very rewarding.

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