Earlier, I prepared pierogies again. The obsession continues, but there’s a small rule in my mind about finding something good and sticking with it. Some would deem this a lack of adventurousness; I would argue that it’s rather a stroke of wisdom.
I chopped vegetables to go with my pierogies, as the former rich sauces were certainly not as healthy as I would like them to be, and I needed something lighter to have tonight. Only moments ago, I caught a whiff of chopped vegetables on my hands- the linger scents of onions and bell peppers that’s comforting and heart-warming.
That caused me to think, what would food be without the numerous aromas that come from the food we’re preparing? Smelling the cooking food may be half the fun of the whole ordeal.
For the cook, scents are at their height with attitude and pungency; we’re in the midst of the fresh (and sometimes not-so-fresh) ingredients, facing their purest and rawest nature. This is a battle that can be difficult but rewarding, as I learned last week when I cried many tears chopping onions.
The next level of scents is when the ingredients first meet one another and begin to unlock their flavors, tone them down, meld together; much of the process of what I mentioned in my former blog. This is where others who smell the food begin to feel hungry, and there’s a secret pleasure in the heart (and stomach) of the cook who sees that expression on the face of someone who has just been hit with a delicious smell of cooking food.
The last level of cooking and smell happens when the meal is completed and stands in its glorious perfection away from the stove and on the table (or island or bar or wherever.) By this time, most people are incredibly hungry, and the smells have made friends, lovers, and children with each other. Something novel has been produced; powerful smells have been curbed and toned down, subtle smells have been amped up and given a voice of their own, and somehow they all beckon to our stomachs (and hearts.)
Really, for the cook, there is no greater pleasure than hearing that someone else is enjoying one’s food, and the aromas are the first thing to be experienced, not unlike the allure that a good cologne or perfume can have in romantic encounters.
More blogs on the divine mystery of cooking coming soon.