Nobody thought I could cook, least of all me. For our wedding, a wrapped up warehouse store supply of macaroni and cheese came alongside a copy of “Help! My Apartment Has a Kitchen.” There wasn’t much expectation of my providing Josh with anything edible.
Taking it as a challenge, I flipped through my condescending cookbook; placing slips of paper in the pages to mark the recipes I intended on conquering. Calzones, potato soup, fried rice, croque monsieur; I would learn to cook!
Every night I had dinner ready for Josh, and it all came easily for me. All I had to do was follow the directions. Confident in my newfound talent, I suggested we invite the in-laws over for dinner. I would make calzones.
Our local grocery store did not carry pizza dough; a necessity for the meal. Biscuit dough should substitute as a casing, right? I measured out the ingredients for one batch of biscuits…the recipe that is supposed to result in 9 biscuits. Rolling out the dough, I decided that it really was only suitable for one calzone. One giant, behemoth calzone. A calzone to end all calzones. A calzone that could feed a family of 6.
I made four of them.
Guessing at the bake time, since my outer layer was not the one intended in the recipe, we ended up waiting an extra 45 minutes for dinner to be ready. Unprepared for this delay in the meal, I had no appetizers or hors d’oeuvres on hand. Good thing too, I wouldn’t have wanted to ruin their appetite for the main course.
Pulling my calzones out of the oven, I marveled at the golden brown exterior, the smell of the mozzarella and ricotta cheeses, the tang of the tomato sauce. Proudly I placed one mammoth half-moon pie on each plate. Anticipating the exclamations of delight and yumminess that would soon be emanating from my in-law’s mouths, I cut into my savory pastry. The normal result is a slight pop as steam escapes from inside, followed by all sorts of tantalizing smells.
Unfortunately this was not the case. Doughy. Underdone.
I had just served my in-laws raw dough wrapped around molten cheese and jarred tomato sauce.
Failure…of epic proportions.
Maybe “they” were right. Maybe we needed to pull out the familiar blue and yellow box with its packaged cheese powder. Maybe I should just quit trying.
Luckily, I did not allow this setback to deter me. That year I had only one other significant inedible meal…Thai food. Other than that, everything I made was not only edible, but good. People wanted me to cook for them. They enjoyed what I served.
As the years have gone by, I’ve spent hours watching cooking shows, researching recipes and reading cookbooks. Never have I taken a class. Not one “How-To” book have I cracked. But I’m a good cook.
How do I know this? People are happy when they eat my food. My husband encourages me in it. My children tell me I make the “best dinner ever.” I get asked to teach others how to cook.
I enjoy it.
I’m not a professional chef. Never once has James Beard given me an award. Cooking does not contribute to my income. Yet there’s not a doubt in my mind that it is a talent I possess.
Too often we allow our doubts and fears to hold us back. Cooking was one area I conquered those doubts, but there are others in my life that I still struggle with. There’s the expectation that if we’re good at it we’ll become famous for it, we can earn money from it, we’ll be better than others.
What’s the true measure of talent? Isn’t it all subjective? Who is the ultimate judge?
These are questions I keep returning to:
1. Do I enjoy it?
2. Do others gain from it?
Yes, acclaim would be nice; whether local or international stardom. Sure, being able to make a living doing it would be fantastic. But it all comes down to: would you continue to do it if no one ever knew?
For you it could be music, painting, basketball, speaking, writing, photography, knitting, film making, or fly fishing.
Regardless of the skill…keep at it! You might start out with raw dough and jarred sauce, but everyone has to start somewhere.