Cook Well and Rule the World
Rank #220 of 1949
About my essay:
Where does everyone hang out and eat? My house. Who hosts all the family dinners? Me. Whose cooking is the basis for all good food comparisons? Mine. I am Goddess.
Cooking well is a conduit to raw power. A combination of attitude, ingredients and atmosphere, well executed, will have people “eating out of your hands.”
I am privy to the inside world of my kids’ social lives as they gather in my kitchen with their friends talking and eating. Delicious, fresh food is my bait. They have to answer my questions or face leaving before the meal is served.
Having survived the first round of inquisition and the first course, they are hooked. Conversation flows freely and the food keeps coming. If anyone thinks they will leave after the quiche or the lamb and veggie kabobs and before they incriminate themselves; well, they just didn’t realize there was blueberry cake coming out of the oven.
Over good food voices are loud; laughter is frequent; music plays and the topics of conversation range from movies to religion to sex. You can ask any question of someone with a mouthful of food. Sooner or later they have to swallow and you’re still sitting there across from them, waiting for answers.
This is only a kitchen inquisition and everyone has a turn in the hotseat.
“I don’t think I’ll go back to school next semester,” says a 19 year-old friend.
I pull back the platter of enchiladas I was about to serve. Now I have his attention.
“Well, I don’t know what to do.”
I lean forward placing the platter down with the unspoken understanding that explanations will be forthcoming and advice will be given. It’s the standard side dish.
They keep coming back for more. I demand, “Here, chop this.” “Zest that orange.” “Would you set the table?” “Just roll the chicken pieces in the corn starch.” “Hand me that fresh basil.”
As they work we hash over ideas and I tease another teenager, “Can you even be a Mormon and a lesbian?”
Ruling the world, I sometimes respect my subjects’ preferences but more often I decide to challenge picky palates. I know best and I know that most people have just never had a well made version of a “hated” food.
This requires a creative description of ingredients until their conversion is firmly established. Wild game is “meat”; garlic and onions may be “spices”; kale only needs to be called “greens”. Enough said.
Taste speaks volumes and even in the case of family feuds no one wants to miss a great meal or holiday dinner so an unspoken truce is called. Warring relatives check their “weapons” at the door to sit at the same table, eat, tell stories, and eat some more. Miraculously there is no tension at my table.
This is the raw power of good cooking; anything can happen under its influence. For an afternoon or an evening we exist in a timeless, happy, delicious place. Leave all the details to me.
I am a benevolent dictator.