I have had two great loves for as long as I can remember. I was introduced to both of them around the same time by my parents. I started cooking (with help obviously) and making art around the age of two and haven’t stopped doing either of them for the past 25 years.
A friend of the family recently shared an anecdote from when I was a 4-year-old wearing an oversized apron. I was standing on a stool to be able to reach the counter, holding a jar of salad dressing and she asked me how I made it, my reply as retold to me by her was, “It’s easy! You just need something sweet, something salty, something oily and something sour!”
That basically sums up what I still love about both of my main disciplines: you get out of them what you put into them.
Both cooking and art-making require time, love and practice if you want to master them. As a kid with a big imagination and a lot of free time growing up in a small town, all of these aspects drew me in. I’m not going to lie, external validation in the form of comments such as, “Wow, this is delicious!” or “That’s a beautiful drawing!” were also very helpful in contributing to my enjoyment of both cooking and art. External validation will only fuel you for so long though.
Making a great painting and making a great meal have a lot of things in common: both require at least a minimum of specialized tools (a pencil, a knife), each has a rich history of ritual and tradition, the creation of them is a tactile experience, when well-executed they can enrich lives and build community.
They also have a lot of things that separate them, the main thing being that a great painting should usually last hundreds of years, while a great meal will probably disappear in a matter of minutes. Making a meal, while I consider it an art, can also be just as simple as opening a box of crackers. Depending on how hungry someone is, or how many special childhood memories they have that include that specific type of cracker, they might prefer your plate of crackers to the 3-course meal that you’ve spent a whole day preparing.
The main thing that I love about cooking is that it is such a simple way to show a person that you care about them. Cooking, in my family, has always been about showing people that you love them. Growing up, my dad and I made baklava together every year for Christmas. He also always cooked a special birthday dinner for my sister and I as per our requests. My mom is also a great cook, and was always coming up with healthy and delicious creations. She made tahini-cocoa truffles when we were kids, a flavour pairing which just became popularized in the mainstream with a brownie recipe published by Bon Appetit this year, though fans of Halva have already long-known its merit.
Painting and art-making are and always have been dear to my heart because they are a wonderful way to process and express emotions. Art is a great way to transform negative experiences into positive creation. As the law of conservation of energy states, energy does not disappear but it can transform. I believe that this applies to emotional energy as well, if you’re feeling bad, you can pass that on to other people as more bad feelings, or you can use your power as a human being to take that negative energy and transform it into something positive, creating something meaningful in the process.
That’s all I have to say for today. Happy Friday!