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How Cooking Makes Writing

Read this on galpod.com.

A person serving from a black frying pan.
Photo by Kevin McCutcheon on Unsplash

I love cooking. I like looking at recipes, finding the one that works best for what I have, tweaking it a bit to our taste and, sometimes, to the nature of the ingredients. For instance, salt here is not salty, so I double the amount. Garlic isn't what it used to be, so I double the amount of garlic for older recipes. There's more moisture in the air here, I suppose, which means at least 50 grams off any given flour quantity.


I rarely make my recipes, mostly because I can't imagine the taste. I have to try the thing itself to know what's missing. So I can't say, oh, I'll mix cardamom with chilly, and it'll go well with apricots (seriously, don't try it). No, that's what cookbooks are for.


Basically, what I do is the fan-fic of cooking. I take a recipe—a world already built by someone else, characters already established—and I tweak it, imagine what could have happened in between, before chapter 1, or after The End.


But every time there's a meal on the table, it's something I have created. There was nothing but jars of spices and uncut vegetables, and I made curry. There was flour and water, and I made bread. And that feels good. It feels even better when the kids say things like, "the bread at school is ok but not as good as yours." It doesn't happen often. They seem to have an inexplicable affinity to fish cakes.


Now and then, I have a cooking fit. I had one the past couple of days. I made lasagne and bread and labneh and pickled beetroots. All this happened yesterday afternoon and this morning. Sometimes, these fits come just before a creative fit, where I would come up with a new story idea or figure out the niggling problem I've been having with the manuscript.


I sure hope this time is one of those times. But if not, at least we have fresh bread today.

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