Joy of Cooking


Few activities are as gratifying as cooking. All the ingredients are there, cookbook open to a recipe for, say, Toscano Soup. Sausage, kale, heavy creme, onions. Sautee, simmer, serve, eat. Delicioso.

With cooking, the results are immediate, and appreciated immediately. 

Not so with writing. The recipe is a jumble of images and words adrift in the imagination, the finished meal often years in the making, and still more years until people get to enjoy it. 

Writing brings me joy, too. But I can’t depend on it. Like grace, joy comes when it comes. Maybe I type a sentence that’s near-perfect the first time, or I experience a fleeting sense something bigger than I is telling the story. But mostly writing is putting the words down, knowing I’ll come back; revise, rework.

Cooking can also be done with loved ones: The apple pie you and your husband make together, the soup your best girlfriend helps you spice, the spaghetti sauce your son stirs dutifully.  Simple acts of collaboration that make both parties, and diners, happy.

Cooking reminds me of my childhood. It recalls my mother in the warm kitchen with music playing, the smell of baked bread, the beets from the garden steaming, the onions in the stir fry. Years ago, she  sent each of her grown children a binder filled with xeroxed copies of her recipes and others she’s collected: Gingerbread, golden popovers, pot roast, enchiladas. I refer to this binder at least once a week.

There’s a feeling of completeness about cooking. After a good meal has been prepared and consumed all feels right with the world. As if one has partaken in a ritual as basic as breathing.



  1. I agree there is much to enjoy when it comes to cooking. The smells and the place that your mind goes when you are in the kitchen creating. It reminds me of a good book, something I can get lost in. The end result is definately worth the effort. I also enjoy having my children watch me cook and I love it even more when they participate. It is comforting to know you are creating memories that one day they too will share with others. I wonder if it will be in this form?

  2. lwdoyle said

    Lucky kids, and I love the analogy with reading. Thanks for the comment, Anna.

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