I usually throw out the recipe on the rare occasions that I cook. My brother is the exact opposite, following the directions exactly. He sets the oven to the exact degree and measures to the percentage of a teaspoon. He sets the timer when he puts something in the oven. He leaves the lid on the pot of rice like you’re supposed to. I, on the other hand, am casual with things. I function by feel. I season to taste. I bake stuff until it looks right.
Sometimes my stuff comes out better, but I’ve also learned that inadvertently dumping in too much of one ingredient can totally screw up a Thanksgiving.
Whether intentional or accidental, I do believe in the perfect storm; I just don’t practice that belief. I have days like that too… days that I couldn’t recreate if you offered me every dollar ever printed, but days that were somehow made up of just the right pieces. I try to wrap my little human brain around it and fail. There’s got to be a formula though, right? We’re all flowing chemicals and energy, so scientifically I should be able to manipulate it.
Yesterday I was infallible. Bulletproof. A walking giant on the streets of Houston. It was sunny and cool outside and I was listening to The Gaslight Anthem’s American Slang record. I’d polished off a pot of coffee and hammered out some pages to a script. I was the right distance from things that I emotionally am estranging myself from and just as close to things I am trying to embrace.
So why, today, with the weather exactly the same (better even), the same track playing on my iPod, the same few sips left in a coffee cup, the same document open on my laptop, can I not get that feeling back?
This is why I’m not a chef. I don’t know how to recreate a dish. I don’t write things down. I don’t pay attention to the details. I am sensation over specifics. I go with what feels right. I try, get frustrated, then I go searching again. I would own the worst restaurant ever. One day it would be the best salmon you ever ate in your life, and the next time you ordered the same dish, it would be cereal.