Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Teachers: What Kind of Cook are You?

When the weather begins to cool and the leaves begin to change, I find I become a different kind of cook. I bring my big pots and pans out of storage and carefully select ingredients that will make a delicious soup or stew and fill my house with the aroma of warmth and comfort.   I pluck the last of the basil from the garden and instead of mixing it with oil and vinegar to marinade chicken breast that I will cook on the grill, I stir it into a pot of ripe red tomatoes and mix in oregano and garlic and watch carefully as bubbles begin to erupt on the surface. As I stir and watch my creations simmer on the stovetop, I begin to think: cooking and teaching have a lot in common.

As a cook, I have choices about the way in which I will deliver my food.  Will I mass produce it and slop it onto a paper plate? If I do this, people may accept this meal and politely push their food around to make it look like they ate but they will leave the table dissatisfied. And I can’t be surprised when I meet the eater who rejects this food altogether.  Who wants something prepared with so little care?  If I can’t be bothered, why should they?

That’s why I try not to cook like this.  I want each meal to be an unforgettable experience so I begin by considering my diners.  Who will I be cooking for tonight?  What ingredients will tantalize and awaken their palates?  How will I prepare this meal so that each bite is delectable and savored like a culinary masterpiece that keeps them thinking about this food long after the last morsel has been eaten?  What special ingredient can I add to not only make them want to eat, but crave this food with insatiable desire?

Cooking is rooted in eating. It is about nurturing a basic human need.  It is about feeding people and like teaching, it can be done in a way that merely gets the job done or it can be done in a way that is unforgettable.  The only question left to consider is this: What kind of cook are you? 

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