By Andrea King Collier
Originally published on the Williams Sonoma Blog.
I cooked with my folks when I was little –cookies, breads, etc. but it wasn’t until I got out on my own that I fell in love with cooking. I got invited to a dinner with a group of women who were older than me. The food was amazing, but the conversation about cooking changed my life. I was resistant to becoming a person who cooks. I wanted to be out changing the world, writing books and telling stories. I said as much, and well that was like throwing the gauntlet down. They talked about all their experiences in the kitchen and the joy they got from being “food artists.” They weren’t chefs. They were everyday women who saw the beauty in preparing food.
When someone dies, people cook food and bring it. It says “I love you. I care about you. We are bonded.” When someone who really knows what they are doing makes a cake, they channel love, creativity and art. When somebody is sick with a cold, you roll up your sleeves and make a chicken soup, that seems to have a healing power. I had never looked at cooking in that way before I heard these women talk about the art of cooking, and the power of the cook.
I was so excited and rushed home to start my love affair with cooking. It didn’t take long for me to learn for myself that you can tell a whole story in a muffin. A gumbo is a history in a bowl. A hot homemade roll is a missive, a prayer. So whenever I get so busy that I forget about the power of the pot, the magic of a sharp knife, or the spell of the last of the cream cheese frosting in the bowl, because I am off creating stories, I go back to the kitchen and fall in love again. For me, cooking, and the ability to create in that way is one of the arrows that points to my true north.