Cooking and Excellence

Oct 16, 2012 by

FOOD. Food sustains our bodies, nourishes our brains, gets us where we need to be. We use food for celebrations, an excuse to meet someone, or any social gathering. If food is such a big part of our lives, should we not strive to make it the best? It seems as though fast food places have become too much of the norm. Even if people do eat at home too often they look towards frozen dinners, cake mixes, canned chili, or gosh forbid…spam.

So what’s so wrong with eating frozen dinners and canned meat? Aside from nutrition,  nothing is exactly wrong with eating these sorts of foods. It feeds your body and gets the job done. One could say the same thing about writing a paper or playing a baseball game. I wrote the paper or I won the baseball game. Is that the purpose of writing a paper or playing a baseball game? Do the ends justify the means? Writing a paper is meant to explain your ideas the best you can so that people can understand what you are saying. Baseball players play the best they can in order to be the best. Olympic competitors do not compete for a shiny metal, but to be the best at their sport. Of course we cannot all be master chefs such as Bobby Flay or Alton Brown, but perhaps we should strive to make meal time something more than what it is. Make dinner an adventure towards something incredibly delicious and satisfying not only to your stomach, but to your soul.

Aristotle wrote a lot about excellence in his  Nichomachean Ethics and says, “the Good of man is the active exercise of his soul’s faculties in conformity of excellence or virtue” (Aristotle I vii 15) Excellence is a virtue and should therefore be practiced in everything you do. Is not the consumption of food one of the most frequent activities of your day?! In almost all of history food has been the center of attention in our daily lives and yet now we always look for something fast or easy. Life can get hard when you are working, taking care of kids, and going through the same daily routine, but doing something excellent can bring meaning to your life. As an English novelist Charles Kingsley said, “We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all we really need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about.” I have lately become interested in the art of cooking and have found so much satisfaction for cooking something delicious and beautiful.

Julia Child working hard at learning how to cook

Julia Child is one of my favorite cooks because she takes something so simple such as Ratatouille and makes it a three hour long process to produce something of sheer simplicity and excellence. Eating is no longer something to nourish your body, but an activity that nourishes the soul. So before you throw that frozen dinner into the microwave after a long day think about how that fast and easy fix is really making you happy. Add a little spice to your life and to your dinner and make a change for the better. Cook for excellence!

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1 Comment

  1. Trevor

    What a beautifully written article. I love the idea of achieving excellence for the sake of a better life. I feel, much like you do about people and food, that people just become far too easily complacent with who they are and where they are at in life. There’s always room for improvement, no matter what. I agree that we shouldn’t take the production of food lightly, so how much more should we take the production of our lives seriously? The ideology you propose is a fantastic one. For how many people should we allow to reside in Plato’s cave before an entire population merely accepts images of things as reality rather than the actual, corporeal objects?

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