If you know me in real life, you are familiar with my crazy, anxious (some say overly-exaggerated and aggressive) personality. If you’ve ever cooked with me, you know that I’m one to bite if you get in my way, take the spoon out of your hand if you’re stirring wrong, and spank you if I feel like it. But you also know that I’m critical, demanding and hold myself and what I make to high standards and also very, very generous when it comes to feeding people carbs and sweet things.
I loved the idea of cooking from a young age. My mom had a huge red and white checkered Betty Crocker Cookbook. To me, it seemed like the bible, and I treated like that, reading through the recipes almost every day, drooling over the glossy photos; from pies to roast meats to canning fruits, this cookbook had it all. It was a revelation to me: this is how food is made! I never did try anything out, at that age, I liked the cookbooks, but cooking wasn’t my forte.
It wasn’t until I got to college and discovered a copy of Mark Bittman’s The Minimalist Cookbook at a used book fair, that I started really cooking. The recipes were so clearly laid out and with a minimum of ingredients. It was the perfect start for the beginning chef.
From there, my new hobby was fueled by America’s Test Kitchen episodes on public television Saturday afternoons, waiting tables in some really great (and really bad) restaurants, and then the jackpot: I moved to France.
After that it was all quiche and dijon mustard, baguette and nutella, pain au chocolat and crêpes, this wasn’t fancy, gourmet food…but it was good. And I soon realized that I loved flour, eggs, yeast and butter. (Coincidently, these are always the four ingredients that I automatically buy at the supermarket whenever I go now.)
After three years of stuffing my face in France, I realized one day that Linguistics is great and all, but damn, when I cook I’m happy and calm. (Refer to the first paragraph describing my general disposition and you’ll realize that this isn’t a common state of mind for me.) More than cooking, I loved baking, kneading, dipping my hands in flour and tossing it all over the place, cutting butter, decorating cakes, and damn eating it all afterwards…I would so rather have a giant piece of cake for dinner, than any other dish.
So I dropped out of my master’s program and started baking at home everyday, and if I wasn’t baking I was traveling to different parts of Paris, tasting the incredible baguettes and miches that so many artisan boulangers have perfected, I became obsessed with different types of flours and how to use them (I’ve got around 7 bags in my freezer now, and a permanent layer of flour dust covering my kitchen.)
It wasn’t until this year that I really buckled down and admitted to myself that I needed to do what makes me happy (sometimes knowing what to do doesn’t make it easier to actually go and do it) and I enrolled in the Professional Pastry Chef program at the Instituto Superior Mariano Moreno.
Cooking is a way to get out of my head, which is usually too crowded and do something bigger and more meaningful: feed people.