Thursday, September 17, 2009

Why do YOU cook, Carol Blymire?

Carol Blymire
Carol Blymire brings a new level of commitment to food blogging. You think cooking through Mastering the Art of French Cooking was impressive? That's nothing. Carol cooked her way through the French Laundry cookbook and documented it on her blog, French Laundry at Home, and is now cooking her way through Alinea at her follow-up blog, Alinea at Home.

Carol shares her adventures and her food and reading how friends and neighbors react to her creations makes me feel like I'm right there with them. There's a good chance I may never cook from either of those books, but I am a vicarious observer and long-distance appreciator of every dish and every post.

"I cook because I'm adopted. Stay with me; I know it might sound weird, but trust me, it's true.

Study after study shows that when babies who were adopted reach adolescence and adulthood, they have greater difficulty connecting with others on an intimate, trusting level.

When I was born in the late 1960s, newborns were placed into foster care or in an orphanage for a few months before being placed with their family. That means newborns who were put up for adoption at that time were separated from the only human being they've ever known moments after being born, then again, months later, from their foster mother or caregiver at the orphanage. So, while most babies spend their first three months developing their sense of trust by merely being able to stare into the same parents' eyes from the moment they were born, people like me have stared into many eyes, heard many voices, and had some fractures in learning how to build trust and intimacy. It can be done -- and my relationship with my family is incredibly loving and close -- but, we have to work harder at it.

The one constant in all that change among all those different people who loved me before my parents got the chance to, is nourishment. No matter who cared for me, no matter whose eyes I stared into, those people fed me. And, I don't think it's merely a coincidence that when I was three months old, my parents brought me into their home for the first time on the night before Thanksgiving, so that my first meal with my new family took place on a day when food is celebrated and honored the most.

It took some time and perspective to understand it, but I now know and cherish that, for me, food is the singularly constant language of love and caring I know. It's why I sometimes get teary at restaurants -- when chefs and cooks share their craft, their passion, their hands, and their work with me, it speaks to me in a way that it might not with others. Especially having recently been diagnosed with celiac and not being able to eat gluten -- having someone cook something for me that won't make me sick has taken my gratefulness for nourishment to a level that is nearly indescribable.

But the question was not "why do you eat" or "why do you write about food," it's "why do you cook?" I cook because, for me, it's the most honest way for me to show my love. I don't throw big dinner parties and invite people I barely know; in fact, I'm actually pretty selective about who sits at my table, and why. Whether it's new friends I want to get to know better, old friends I've known my whole life, or having my family come for a Sunday dinner, the best and most trusting, honest way I show my love and affection is to have you eat something I've made. It might be something it took me all day to make, or it might be something I threw together at the last minute -- the how is not important, but the why is. The people with whom I share the food I make should be able to hear, feel, smell, touch, and taste my care, my respect, and my love of not just the food, but of them. That's why I cook -- not just because I know how to, but because I love to feed the people I love having in my life."