Having said that I will use my blog to both improve and publicise my writing, I have just managed to find a piece I did last term for which I had to change tack at the last minute. This is a personal essay, and had to be titled “Delight is…” so here goes:
Delight is the first morsel of delicious hot food after two hours of sweat, smoke and sliced vegetables in the kitchen, which now looks like a culinary bombsite. Well, first you do the courteous thing of getting out the dishes and serving up a generous portion for every other person eating; it almost goes without saying. Then you simply sit at the table and begin to eat.
For me, the moment of delight comes with being able to sit down, relax and enjoy the results of my hard work. Don’t get me wrong, a tasty meal on an empty stomach is never to be sniffed at. Yet somehow, there is still that extra bit of something – a subtle addition to the flavour, perhaps – to a dish which you have burnt your hand, stained the work surfaces and toiled against the clock for. It all starts with the preparation. Pasta and tomato sauce? I waste at least half an hour with that one stepping away from the chopped onions, looking as if I have been crying hysterically. Chow Mein noodles? Do try not to leave them in that pan of boiling water a minute too long or you will end up with stringy Chow Mein porridge. Bean burritos? In my family I have to remember: meat but no cheese for my sister, chopped vegetables but no meat for Mum and a little of each topping for my stepdad. Me, I like spice. Extra chilli, sliced onions, lots of black pepper, maybe even a little garlic. Perfect.
So you scrape out the last remnants of warmly spiced sauce from your dish. You turn towards the kitchen, bracing yourself for the state in which you have left it. And then comes the last moment of delight: the family all rise from the table and get to work on the spattered work surfaces, the sink full of dishes, the spare ingredients lying around near their proper places, while you…you get to help yourself to seconds. Chef’s privilege.
For this personal essay we had to come up with topics that bring us (wait for it) delight. My first choice was something like “having a really deep conversation with someone that gives you a lot to think about.” At first I thought this was deep, philosophical and interesting, however on hearing other people’s delights, such as “cycling” and “Robert Pattinson” I felt that mine was more nerdy and pretentious than anything else. So I settled for cooking. Because the outcome of cooking is food, and food most definitely brings delight.