Cooking and Gratitude

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For those who don’t know, I’m actually a very good cook. I not only spent a great deal of time working in restaurants, I trained under a couple of chefs and worked my way up in the kitchen. Chefs can be unbelievably arrogant, as if they are the great artistes of the world. I had a couple that were so bad, I used to imagine them in a tutu, like a prima donna ballerina having a hissy fit, pink tights and all.

I used to do salads and desserts, building elaborate presentations. Presentation, presentation, presentation. Our eyes are the first thing we eat with and the appearance of our food, the colors, textures, are what set the stage for our eating experience. There is great romance in food, in the whole process of dining. Sometimes when I grab a bagel to eat in the car, I feel as if  I am committing a sin against the whole concept, rejecting a great gift in favor of a hurried meal and the crunch of time. We do entirely too much of that in the Western world.

I love fresh herbs plucked right out of the garden, garlic pulled up that morning, olive oils at various levels of virginity, and seafood so fresh it’s still wiggling around. The closer you can get to your food source the better. Yes, this is profound stuff with huge emotional, psychological, and spiritual implications. It’s all very dramatic and vitally important, I assure you.

We have a tiny kitchen at my house, a galley kitchen that belongs on a boat, a very small boat. Also we have a house full of people who all insist on eating differently, at different times, and using the kitchen for a myriad of tasks completely unrelated to cooking. Long story short, I completely lost control and access to my own kitchen.

A few years back I was in prayer, also known as murmuring, grumbling, complaining,  bemoaning the loss of my kitchen, the horrible unfairness of it all, the territory I was forced to relinquish, the fact that my cooking joys have been reduced to cleaning somebody’s burnt pizza out of the oven. Unfair Lord, I’ve sacrificed enough, this one is just too much to ask.

I kid you not, within a few hours of expressing my complete despair, I had four jobs involving cooking. Not just cooking, but some rather elaborate cooking in well equipped kitchens nearly the size of my own house. Money was no object, time was no object, and I had the kitchens entirely to myself. It was paradise, I tell you. I got to make Kahlua duck and pot roasts and chocolate ganache and bake bread and make oatmeal cookies and do all my favorite things.

Alas, all good things come to an end. People move away, pass away, or decide to winter in the South of France. I will never forget that answered prayer however, and the opportunity to not only cook, but to cook in the lap of luxury for people who were so appreciative and admiring of my efforts.

So, on this Thanksgiving I am once again not cooking but still filled with gratitude for answered prayers. Victory in the midst of such melodramatic injustice, yes, that’s always a delight, but mostly I am grateful to know that I serve a God who cares about each of us so personally, that He sometimes takes the time to deliver us even the most trivial secret desires of our heart.

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