I’ve been under a lot of stress lately and all signs point to that stress continuing for the foreseeable future. Now there are many ways that I could choose to deal with said stressors…the usual remedies include getting friendly with my wine supply, exercising, becoming a hermit, becoming delusional, eating more, eating less, retail therapy, yoga—ok, maybe not yoga—that takes a level of patience I seem to lack. So, what is my therapy for stress? Cooking. Baking. Playing in the kitchen. I play A LOT. I do a lot of visualization to go along with it. What kind of visualization? Well, I visualize being a psychopath with violent urges that cannot be released in any other “conventional” ways. If you think about it, cooking is quite violent. Let me explain…
If you read any recipe, you will start to see the makings of a Hollywood blockbuster horror flick. Yes, you read correctly. Let’s take some simple, common, mandatory procedures in example. You need to know how to chop, dice, mince, smash, pulverize, puree, whip, and slice. I have recipes that call for throwing raw meat after squishing it with breadcrumbs and egg—now that is particularly therapeutic! Steam, broil, boil, simmer, sauté, fry, grill, bake, and bar-b-que…When it’s done, plunge it in an ice bath, wrap it tightly removing all air, put it in the freezer …the list goes on.
I enjoy taking my frustrations out on unsuspecting vegetables… and meat. Ripping off the skin and pounding a chicken breast…ahh, now that’s happiness. Chopping onions with abandon…who would’ve imagined that wielding a sharp instrument while crying could be so good for the soul and not have to worry about jail time to go with it? In fact, the better you become at violence directed toward food, the more people want you to be violent…I mean, cook. I imagine chefs to be very happy people even with their stressful and demanding jobs.
It surprises me when some people say they just can’t cook at the end of a very trying day. They are too wound up to focus; too tightly strung to pull anything together. I say, hey, make a pot of soup! It really doesn’t require A LOT of thought (ok, it requires SOME thought, but you have a lot of leeway), and you get to utilize a lot of violent actions. If you make too much, do what they do in the movies…freeze it (insert evil and menacing laugh here).
Baking is an especially good way to relieve stress. Bread is particularly therapeutic. How often do you get to punch something, more than once, and get praised for it? Hey, it says so in the directions “let rise til double in size. Punch down.” Just visualize that person in your life that is an overinflated blowhard and punch him/her down. Wait a couple of hours…and do it again. Then bake ‘em! Happiness. Pure happiness. At the end of it all, slather a big slice of heaven with butter and eat. You might even want to dunk that blowhard, I mean bread slice, in a cup of really hot beverage before the proverbial “bite me” moment. Smile. Smile some more.
Perhaps this is part of the reason I have an insane collection of cookbooks. I start reading them and get caught up in the directions. Sure, the pictures are a huge draw, but I read cookbooks like novels. I can see myself making certain recipes. Sometimes, just reading the directions make me feel better. At the end of the day, no one gets hurt, I feel better, and everybody wins.
I feel better already.