A Few Thoughts On the Kindness of Cooking Well (with particular emphasis on the peculiar graces of a good gravy)

I enjoy cooking. Much to my surprise some people actually enjoy eating my concoctions. Perhaps there is a sense in which the pleasure is communicable from man at stove to man at table. Maybe there is an infusion of joy that takes place in the preparation that is mysteriously unlocked with fork and knife. But this invisible transfer of mirth from pots to plates doesn’t have the effect of sucking all of the pleasure from the cook, rather it opens up a nexus whereby mutual satisfaction flows back and forth ad infinitum. The delight grows ever larger and larger as both Stove and Table take part in the experience of mutual merriment. For me, watching a person try to chew while smiling is as nourishing as the dish itself. I have meat to eat that ye know not of.

To feed someone is to impart life; it is to sustain existence, to preserve body and soul. The quality of the fare is emblematic of the quality of their continued existence. Unless we desire souls that are bland, dry, and completely lacking in both texture and taste, we cannot afford to feed them food that has lost its savor. Every meal is an opportunity to flavor the future of the world. If you care about the souls of men then don’t skimp on the seasoning.

I am certainly not the best cook but I am the best kind of cook. I am that kind of cook that enjoys the produce, process, and production, so that you may enjoy the finished product. I am aiming for empty plates, full bellies, and fat souls.

Eating well, much like cooking well, is a learned skill. While it takes time to train stubborn palates (and the persons who harbor them), the task is made immeasurably simpler if one has something pleasant to practice on. Something as simple as a creamy sauce or rich gravy in which the novice can push around a piece of warm bread or stewed meat can go a long way in helping him learn the fine art of sopping. Through repeated practice he will eventually discover that joy is the kind of thing that can drip down one’s chin like the oil in Aaron’s beard. Behold how good and how pleasant that is.

*Pro Tip:

When making a sauce or gravy always use stock or wine unless you are let hitherto by physical restraints. To add plain water is to strain the bounds of reason; it is a madness. It is also to despise mercy; demanding a cruel exertion of a sauce, to have it arrive at the table overwrought and overworked. A gravy is not a banquet stew. It doesn’t have that excess of mouth-watering meat upon which a family can feast for days. It is a simple dish to be pitied and spared the burden of inordinate expectations. Accordingly, any liquid that goes into it should be of the most charitable and kindly disposition—a bonum diffusivum sui—which understands how much more blessed it is to give than to receive. Let your liquids be of the most generous sort; Samaritans rather than Levites. May their entrance make the the world ever stronger and more vibrant. Stock then, never water. Or in the case of most sauces, wine. Wine—the lovingkindness of God in creaturely form—covers a multitude of culinary sins. Taste and see that the Lord is good.

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