When I got home from school today, I found a pile of rhubarb stalks in the sink that Carl and Mary had picked for me. I’d told Carl that if he’d harvest some rhubarb for me, I’d make pies. Nothing like motivation, eh? Anyway. So the girls and I got busy right away on the pies. The girls washed the stalks while I chopped, and then Hannah helped me with the rest of the pie making. She wants to learn how to do these things, and she does so by watching me and then doing what I’ve done. Mary, on the other hand, is a total experimenter. She took a few chunks of rhubarb (I had plenty – thanks, honey!) put it in a bowl and added milk, Splenda, flour and baking soda, then mixed the goo up. I had some leftover pie crust, so I lined a small glass dish with it and let Mary pour her goo in. Then we nuked it for 2 1/2 minutes, and when it came out, it didn’t look too bad, but it was spongy. It may yet harden as it cools, I don’t know. For all I know, it may actually be edible!
But today’s events got me to thinking: what is cooking? Is it an art form or is it chemistry? If you’d ask my sister, she’d probably say art form. That’s because she’s an extremely talented cook – she can go into almost any restaurant, eat a meal, and then go home and re-create it perfectly. I, on the other hand, regard cooking as chemistry. You mix stuff together, apply a heat source, and after a measured amount of time your “experiment” is done. Unfortunately, this approach results in meals that taste like a lab experiment. I think Mary is also approaching cooking this way. However, she’s bolder, mixing things together and cooking it just to see how it turns out. I don’t have that kind of courage. And Hannah? I think she’d consider cooking an art form. If she wants to explore this type of art, I need to find her a tutor, one who has the ability to stand at a counter for hours mincing garlic and peeling the rinds off of oranges. Hmmmm…..where to find a cooking tutor…..