I always considered myself a somewhat creative spirit but lack the tools necessary to express that side of my personality, though in my defense, I did give it a significant effort. My list of failed artistic endeavors includes but is not limited to the following: all the standard art practices like drawing, painting, beading, etc. as well as every other craft that you can buy in the girly craft section of Target, I went through an interesting wooden stool painting phase during Christmas one year, pottery, hip hop dance during my Junior High days of globbering my face in glitter and shopping exclusively at Limited Too, Irish dance (which – in my opinion – I was actually quite good at), choir (failed miserably), acting (I still hold my fourth grade role as a “spice dwarf” in an “abstract” version of Alice in Wonderland to be one of the top 5 most horrifying moments of my life), the embossing stage even lasted a couple of years, the papermaking stage (this involved transforming our basement into a papermaking factory), needlepoint, clarinet (lasted four months), piano, my most recent attempts at knitting (in which I finished about three headbands) and I’ll even count my Asian karaoke escapades as a well grounded effort to beak into the arts.
However, after 22 years I have come to realize I should stick with the things I know. Food.
There’s something about cooking that has always calmed me down. The act of investing physical energy and mental creativity into raw earthly ingredients in order to create a completely new substance has always been somewhat empowering to me. All of the senses are involved to indulge in the shared experience of a unique palette of flavors and ingredients. After a stressful day of school, coming home to do something as simple as roasting tomatoes was one of my favorite comforts. Perhaps I was enthralled by the smell of rosemary filling the kitchen or maybe it was simply the satisfaction of creating something on my own.
Despite the abundance of local markets here, I hardly ever cook. It’s actually cheaper to eat out and my work schedule limits my ability to cook exciting dinners for myself, one of my
favorite things to do back home. Thus, I thoroughly enjoyed helping the kids at the DRD center cook lunch last Friday. They went shopping for all the ingredients at the local market and embraced a new role of confidence in the kitchen. They were focused and dedicated on their individual tasks and delighted in the finished product! Watching the students work together highlights the magic of cooking – to make something unexpected, something new, something delicious out of the most basic of things. These students, while facing significant challenges and set backs in a culturally sensitive country, will also overcome their “basic” label and evolve into their own unexpected delights.