Are people born bakers and cooks, or made bakers and cooks? Note that I do distinguish between baking and cooking—some can master the fine art of cooking but don’t “get” the intricacies and science of baking, and vice versa.
So, perhaps I’ve answered my own question. I think that there is some inner talent for cooking, just as there is for music, for writing, for dance, and, yes, for math.
As an illustration, here’s a story from a new business connection:
I was about 12 years old. I came home from school one day and my mother had left a boxed brownie mix on the counter for me to make. I followed the directions exactly. When it said, “Butter bottom of pan,” I buttered the bottom of the pan. On the outside bottom. Then stuck it in the oven. I almost set the house on fire.
“And that,” she said, “is why I don’t cook.”
Compare it to my story, which explains why I DO cook:
I was about 12 years old. I had been badgering my mom to let me bake. I came home from school one day to find a cookbook spread out on the table. My mom’s handwriting was in the margin of the cookbook with the words “this one,” pointing to a simple brownie recipe. With a sense of destiny, I gathered all of the ingredients, and carefully measured and mixed. That evening, I presented perfect made-from-scratch chocolate brownies to my family. Accolades followed, and I was hooked.
There’s nothing like success to build your confidence. And, there is nothing like confidence to turn your innate skills into a craft.
In cooking, it’s confidence that gives you the, well, confidence to try to new things. To shake on a little of this spice, or mix up the ingredients a bit. It’s confidence that helps you follow a recipe and know you understand the directions. And, it’s practice that affirms and reaffirms your abilities.
My new business friend certainly understands confidence and practice. She spent 20+ years as a ballerina, dancing professionally and honing her art. But she never really “got” cooking. (For the record, I never got ballet, either).
I used to say that anyone who can read a recipe could learn to cook.
Until I started thinking about buttering the bottom of the pan.
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