As a parent back in the day… and currently as an exhilarated and goofy grandpa (aka Pop Pop)… one of the most rewarding times each day are feeding times. The thing is… time spent feeding the baby humans is not only necessary and nutritious… it’s also bonding and rewarding. You are extending to little… open… baby-bird-like mouths… spoonfuls or bottles of joy and strength. The smile and laughter you get in return is payback in kind… coming right-back-at-you with joy & strength. This joy extends beyond infants however, and can be attained when feeding an entire family, group of friends, or big dinner party… it works on the same concept. So… this is the main idea of today’s blog… that in feeding people there is joy… at every stage of the process…so here goes;
Over 30 years ago I was thoroughly captivated by the explanation and exploration of the creative process as presented in the book JOY by William Schutz. Initiation of a creative thought… the process of expressing… the perseverance and follow-through… and perhaps the most difficult part of the creative process… the evaluation (both self-evaluation and serious regard for the input of your ‘audience’). I’ve lived my life learning about… and immersing myself in the joys and RISKS of this process. Be it composing, video making, musical performance, reciting poetry [a particularly risky and ill-conceived endeavor (sorry family…continue with your meal please…arghh!) in my case], studio recording, or my all-time favorite… creating & writing recipes and preparing them… the epitome of the Creative Process On-A-Plate.
Making a dish which displays all of the elements of culinary pleasure takes lots of initiative, execution, perseverance, and evaluation. Not only does great food taste good… it looks good… it smells good… it invites… it confirms… and it comforts. A creative dish considers presentation and proportion and form. This is not a call-to-arms for proponents of haute cuisine or nouvelle cuisine… because big and fancy can be great… small and essential can be great… and just plain simple can also be great. It boils down to (or simmers) care, quality, and balance. A bowl of broth with a hint of parmesan rind can offer the most remarkable taste imaginable… simple in execution and presentation… yet simultaneously complex and subtle on the tongue. On the other side of the spectrum, while complex preparations can be fantastic and memorable… there are also dishes ill-conceived by complexity, over-thought-out, and flavors that are in competition or are undetectable…or… to quote from the movie Amadeus, “…too many notes!”
The creation of an enjoyable and expressive dish can thusly be simple… or complex… city vibe or farmhouse spirit… China-plated for the Guggenheim or paper-plated for a backyard barbecue. They key ingredient for the success of any joyous feeding is honesty. Heart-felt & sincere…a lack of self-indulgence… care and pride in the execution and preparation…and the desire to create something that can be shared and enjoyed by yourself and others. Feeding people is shared joy… complete with nutrition, sustenance, and delicious memories.
Feeding my beautiful granddaughter mixed cereal followed by mashed peaches and a formula chaser is a wonderful experience for both of us. Putting a big meal together for a dozen adults for extended family to share in fellowship is not much different. The idea comes first…the meal is prepped and cooked…the audience partakes in the experience of the meal…and, more times than not… the evaluation process is rendered in the smiles of delight & appreciation… and…as a bonus…from a pay-it-forward perspective is equally enjoyable for the person who creates the meal as it is for the recipients of said creative process. It’s the JOY of FEEDING PEOPLE.