I am not what one would call "an adventurer". I would rather be at home than put on pants, I would much rather see a movie at the theater alone, and I would completely prefer buying a bottle than going out for a drink. I often listen to albums at home - as in, just sit there and listen to them. And yes, now that you're wondering how curmudgeonly I am exactly, I do own and smoke a pipe (a Savinelli, thanks). I could be a goddamn hobbit if their cute houses were bigger. That being said, I have been known to venture out of my hobbit-hole to feast cheaply at the hobby buffet. My first intense interest was paleontology, of all things. There was a time in my life that I could identify whole genera and subspecies of prehistoric creatures. Later, computers, then the bass, followed by singing. I played in a frighteningly Creed-like Christian rock band called Crimson when I was 16 - so now you know that information. Professionally I'm an editor and videographer, which is what I went to (some) college for, and which will probably be my career for some time; I like it and I'm good at it. But the one constant that has always been there ever since I could pick up a box of Bisquick: I love cooking food.
Food - and, by proxy, feeding people - is my religion.
The first part of my belief system is this: food will bring any two randomly-selected people together in a manner without pretense and with little forethought than any other thing on this planet. You cannot say the same for anything else. I know a lot of people that don't like sports. With the exception of those weirods that drink plankton milkshakes or some shit their entire life (because they're white and fucking able to, presumably) everyone that exists loves to eat. Some of the best meals I've had in my life were with people I knew nothing about and/or that represented most of what I hate. There is nothing else that potentially polar-opposite individuals will be guaranteed to agree on other than this: good food is a good time. A very good time.
The second part is about cookery itself: I believe that when you make something for someone, a transference of "something" occurs. Love, goodwill, energy, "something" - you can tell and taste the difference when food is made by someone who, say, doesn't know how to cook very well, and someone who just doesn't give a shit. My wife Anna makes me coffee almost every morning. Your Italian-or-whatever mom makes her famous veal scallopini every week. My dad made pancakes for us every Saturday. That aunt you barely knew that was sweet and also kind of weird but always made you corned beef hash on the mornings you stayed over when you were little. It's an automatic but simple gesture, and it's one of my most favorite things about life. This is also, according to science, why grandmothers are and always will be the world's best cooks. It is the only intangible ingredient.
Some would argue - fairly, I guess - that these are pretty petty levels of human interaction. I heard a guy once use the phrase "lowest-common-denominator" to describe it. The cynic in me would agree, but it also makes me wonder aloud: if I, a professional asshole, can sit regularly among those with which I vehemently disagree, just to stay connected, doesn't that say... something? To me the food at the table between us isn't the crutch, it's the glue. I don't have it all figured out. I don't particularly like most people, but it strikes me that - point forthcoming! - I'll cook for just about anyone.
Not satisfied with my already exceptional morbidity, I do daydream about my last supper. I think it's just the idea of it that I find intriguing: to be granted an unconditional food wish... your very last bite ever.
I've gone through many, many iterations of cured-meat-this and roasted-that, and I've come to the conclusion that my final meal could very well contain only two items:
Bread: the oldest, simplest and arguably most complex food ever created... and:
Whiskey, the supremely superior alternative to water.
These two things - tropes of unachievable perfection - could be and should be on the periodic table of elements. They have sustained entire nations and now sustain me. With a good hearty loaf and a choice of Kentucky's finest, I might be distracted well enough to face the reaper.
To revisit the topic of confessions for a moment, drinking alcohol is relatively new to me. My wife Anna and I were both raised in very religious families, and it just wasn't a part of Pentecostal life at all. Growing up, Anna and I had our perceptions of booze, among many other things, decided for us - it was something to abstain from completely as Jesus supposedly did, and is as quintessentially sinful as masturbation but not quite as sinful as other things.
The reasoning? It is still not completely clear to me... perhaps another deluding element of control. The irony is of course that some members of our teetotaling families seem as if they could really benefit from a stiff drink, particularly on birthdays, Sunday dinners, and on, around, and leading up to the holidays. My mom (saved telepathically through a tv preacher) does not quite tolerate the fact that I've taken up boozing, but knowing her and her mother's history with substances, I've definitely never required or expected it. It does make for the weird fantasy of intoxicated family members: drunk mom would either be hilarious or mortally terrifying.
My thoughts on knowable Gods and faith (the most overrated virtue) I can definitely share later. But I'd like to think if a creator does exist, that for us lowly humans he surely created water knowing that we would add it to a bit of flour and leaven bread with it, and that we would also add it to grain and distill the hell out of it. For that, brothers and sisters, we are truly blessed.
These are my decrees. They're all I have, so don't take them away from me. If you have a sense of how things work around here already, you can also assume that I proudly hold my convictions as any good human male would: by exclusively reserving the right to change them when I find it is convenient for me.
Or when the McRib is back.