I can feel a drop of water, barely moving downwards on my cheek. My hair is wet and I am waiting my turn for a haircut. A squeak-hum of bicycle wheels is coming from the next room, where my father is using up energy before bed. Close to me, the metallic sounding snip of scissors, as my mother finishes with my brother’s hair. It is so dark now that when I try to look out of the window, I only see my reflection. The ambient sounds, the hour of the night, everything has meshed into a feeling of contentment.
I had been happy all day, but not this deep sense of everything being exactly as it should. This afternoon, browsing the books section at Costco, while waiting for tires to be changed on my car, I opened up a cookbook and, suddenly, I needed to bake something.
There is a reason that I am majoring in Culinary Arts. I am nearly always ready to mix up some baked good or help put dinner together. This was a different feeling though, beyond wanting to work in the kitchen or being willing to do so. When it comes, like it did in the Costco aisle today, I feel as though if I don’t get into the kitchen soon, something will break. Energy, pressure, builds up at the thought of mixing batter or kneading dough. I think of all the things I have ever wanted to bake, all the things I have recently been planning to bake. I want to stay in the kitchen for hours and days, mixing, mixing, and mixing.
I didn’t explode in the store, or in the car, either. But as soon as we arrived home, I pulled the log of frozen puff pastry, left from my mother’s birthday dinner nearly a week past, in the refrigerator to thaw. I left my math homework out of sight inside my bag and stepped into the backyard. The wind was blowing wildly, but the sun was still shining and I left off shoes in favor allowing my feet to feel the rough rocks that paved the area around the oven. The wind blew my fire out. I lit it again and the wind blew it out again. We repeated the pattern a few more times, until, in a lull, I managed to get it lit and block the wind out with the door. Then, inside, I took the puff pastry, melted butter, cinnamon and sugar, and a rolling pin. I rolled out the pastry, brushed it with butter, gave it a generous sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar, folded it up into a log, and sliced it lengthwise. I placed each nascent cookie on a sheet and gently pressed them flat. Then, the urge was gone. I was still enjoying myself, but it was a relaxed enjoyment. I finished heating the oven and baked off the cookies. I ate one, fed one to my mother, two to my sister and left the rest for grabs on the tray. And I took out my math homework.
I don’t have any idea, really, why I work the way I do. Why, if I go too long without playing with food in some way or another, a feeling of unease grows. It never has to be complicated, I just have to touch it, feel it, and manipulate it in some way. Everyone can’t be like this, because not everyone likes to cook. But perhaps some people needed to be created with this urge to cook that is so strong it is almost like being forced to do so. Perhaps, in order to feed those people like my father, who will exercise every day of the week and more, and my brother, who lives in a state of perpetual motion, and my mother who always has something on her to-do list, there need to be people like me, who will bake every day of the week and more.