Friends & I saw Eat, Pray, Love last weekend & bantered while eating Italian food about what was our “Word.” In the movie, an Italian friend of the protagonist said that each person & each country has a word that best describes character. For America, Julia volunteered “ambition” & her word turned out to be “we go” (or something like that) which in Italian is simply one word.
I said my word was, “Whatever.” My friends laughed, but they seemed to think I was being somewhat negative about myself. But I meant Whatever positively, meaning that I try to be open to experience & take on whatever comes my way & make the best of it. That’s the goal anyway.
My husband quips that I’m a fatalist; I let life happen to me. True, the Portuguese, of which I am true blood, have a tradition of fatalism; the liner notes to any Fado CD will tell you that (but more on my Portuguese-ness & cultural fixed ideas in future blogs).
I’ve had type A go-getters & self-described optimists label me as pessimistic or passive. But I’ve also seen many of those same people turn into angry whiny jerks in situations where they don’t get their way & passive-aggressively refuse to adapt to the agendas or wishes of others. While ambition & focus is desirable professionally, such drivenness can also make people bad at life & bad at relationships. Take workaholics. I suspect the high divorce rate is partially due to unwillingness on the part of one or both parties to “let go” of their desire to hyper-control their lives & compromise &/or take turns being adaptable to the goals of the other.
Whateverness can be highly active. It’s a creative approach to life, reveling in the possibilities of even the smallest interactions, activities & objects. Even the stupid things I’ve done or the bad experiences that I have to endure can be used as raw materials for new (better) ways of living life. Or at least I can write about it. I have a masters in fine arts-creative nonfiction & wouldn’t it be great if I could put some of my over-thinking to good use?
So I present the “whatever” mindset as Virtue (w/o, I hope, being preachy). HOWEVER, ALL THIS PHILOSOPHIZING IS JUST BACKGROUND & THE SUBSTANCE OF THE BLOG IS MY ATTEMPTS TO TEACH MYSELF TO COOK USING RECIPES AS MERELY GUIDELINES & OFTEN JUST PLAYING w/ INGREDIENTS TO CREATE GOOD FOOD. I’ve been described as an intuitive cook & (this time) the label fits ;)
I plan to get my father to cook w/ me & write about it. He cooks Portuguese food & taught himself to cook Italian by working his way up from dishwasher to sous chef at an Italian Restaurant. Sometimes, I’ll link longer essays to the blog that deal with cultural & emotional issues related to cooking. I’m also hoping friends will cook one of their favorite foods w/ me & let me write about the experience.
Ideally, I’ll generate recipes AFTER I cook, and post some of them. My goals are to:
1) Create simple, EASIER & FASTER-than-TAKEOUT food (I joked to friends that I might name the blog: The Half-Assed Cook)
2) Pass on principles that allow a cook to play effectively w/ food, so that the vast majority of what you cook comes out damn good.
3) Turn cooking into leisure, so that even when a “recipe” takes time & effort, it’s fun or generates flow, in that, you get so wrapped up in what you’re doing at the moment, you forget you’re working, i.e., time flies.
So in short, this blog is my exploration of a Whatever approach to life, and it starts w/ my attempts to teach myself to cook by playing with food & connecting with the cooks in my life, in the hopes of becoming THE Whatever Cook ;)
Yesterday, I made chorizo-flavored vegetable stock & cooked potatoes & chicken breasts w/in & used that to make Mariscada for dinner, using Fresh Direct pre-packaged “cook’s helper” seafood package. I also made Greek Chicken & Potato Salad for lunch, using one cooked chicken breast & some of the potatoes. (Vegetable stock is SOOO MUCH easier to make than chicken stock & gives major taste bang). Today I used the stock & leftover chicken to make Chicken Orzo Soup. My next post will be about that.