Friday, October 16, 2009

Do You Smell What the Rock is Cookin’?

Say you’re a good cook. You like cooking and whatever comes out of your kitchen brings tears of joy to men’s eyes. So, yeah, you’re a pretty awesome cook. Good for you.

Well you gotta work, my friend. You gotta earn the bucks. So you try to make money out of this God-given talent by being a chef in a restaurant and cooking for other people. Fair enough. Cooking other people’s meals is a noble endeavour.

But then your boss, the restaurant’s manager, tells you that you should cook something else, something that you know you wouldn’t eat yourself. And you do as he says. Because you gotta put food on your own table. You don’t like what you’re cooking but you do it because you have to. You think what your boss makes you cook is a pile of offal starving dogs wouldn’t touch but you do it anyway. As the years pass, you grasp stubbornly, desperately, to your opinion that what you enjoy cooking is what’s good and what you’re cooking now is abhorrent to you. If you don’t lose sight of the distinction, you say, you’ll be alright. You’ll stay true to your art inside you heart. It’s what the people want to eat, your boss would say. Nevertheless, you’d answer him politely, my taste is different.

The day comes when your boss goes away and is replaced by a new boss, a boss whose sensibilities are nearer to your own. You learn that he likes the food that you like cooking. He doesn’t know yet that you can throw together a mean version of his favourite pasta. So you crack your knuckles and tie on your apron. You’re ready and raring to fire up the stove and create a gastronomic miracle that would make your new, more appreciative boss weep tears of joy.

But wait, your new boss says. Wait.

He smells something in the kitchen. Something he doesn’t like.

He follows his nose. It leads him to the refrigerator.

He opens it and sees leftovers from your old boss’ breakfast.

Your new boss thinks it’s an abomination.

You agree with him silently, your heart alight with the feeling that, at last, here’s validation. I was right!

You new boss looks at you with a cold expression on his visage. He takes out something from his bag. He gives it to you. Study that, he says without looking at you. And then he leaves the kitchen.

You’re confused. You look at the object he’d given you. A book. You look at the cover.

It’s a cook book.

Study that.

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