May 14, 2011

An Interview With Self

An interview with Self on: How does philosophy and cooking the Thanksgiving dinner enter today's current philosophies?

K.S.:  What do you see as a philosophical view in the mundane job of cooking?
Self:  I think it all started when I read an unusual interview between Ilana Simons and Ted Richards.  I saw that Soccer was the topic, as well as the insularly feelings of being an academic.  I figured if someone could take a competitive sport, a singular academic achievement, and turn it into a subject that could interest the masses, I could also think of a subject that might stand out as important, and the idea of cooking came to mind.
K.S.:  In what way do cooking methods have to do with philosophy?
Self:  I know that sounds strange to the common ear, but just having your stomach growl and shoving a microwave dinner into a machine, doesn't make for a cook, right?  It is very philosophical.  A lot of thinking is involved.
K.S.:  Well, yes, of course, you're right.  Can you explain further?
Self:  I thought about the rigors and mechanics of thought, as it shifted to the actual coming up with something that would be pleasing, both to myself and to others.  You actually do have to think beyond reaching into a freezer for the food that someone else went to the trouble of fixing.
K.S.:  Tell me about the Thanksgiving dinner idea.
Self:  What is the most complicated, or let me re-phrase that, what is the dinner of the year that requires a singular cook to become multitasked with thoughtful interludes into one's self, to complete with accuracy?
K.S.:  That seems sensible.  Tell me more.  I'm always interested in cooking.
Self:  Well, I love to create something different during this process.  To concoct a dish that has been handed down through years of family history, and changing it up for today's society is always a goal of mine.  The process isn't easy, and one can either succeed with honors or fail miserably within the mouths of many.
K.S.:  What does the task require? 
Self:  First off you have to think on your feet.  There is no sitting down to ponder long, once you get your food ingredients out.  Timing is everything.  It's a race to the finish, and I do mean a race.  You have a dozen guests sitting down at the table, and expecting to be all fed at the same time.  That means - the Turkey must be fully cooked in a desired way that will please everyone, and being at rest while the rest of the food is ready to go on the table.  But, I'm getting ahead of myself, let me back up.  Thinking about whether or not your guest would like appetizers, and how much time do I spend visiting with them before I head into the kitchen.
K.S.: Are there any kinds of preparation, beforehand, or do you do it all while the Turkey is in the oven.
Self:  Good question!  There are some things that can be prepared the day before.  Cranberry sauce, if made from scratch.  Pies may also be prepared in advance.  Then the first thing the next morning, the stuffing/dressing is placed into the cavity of the Turkey - Then in the oven it goes.
 Close to its coming out, you have the potatoes, the vegetables, the rolls, the salads, and then the small relish dishes to be made.  All can be put into the refrigerator and kept until needing to be either heated or cooked.  I think the major thought is preparation and cooking time.  You must know how much time each of these foods must be cooked.  It's down to the wire, the last hour before it is plated.
I always anticipate someone not liking what I set on the table, because of all of the different likes and dislikes, favorites that are to be satisfied in this process.  I worry about making a mistake along this journey.  The repercussions of not getting the right ingredients in, forgetting something, and at the last minute find it's too late to make changes.  I have to go with what mistakes I've made.  I mean it can be little things like, choosing butter over margarine for the rolls; Whole cranberries over jellied cranberries, and Pumpkin pie, apple pie, or mincemeat.  Cornbread or regular bread for the stuffing, or Giblet gravy or no giblet gravy, these are the questions.
K.S.:  Do you think it really matters, in the end?
Self:  There are literally dozens of choices in this process of making a Thanksgiving dinner, and it's all in your lap!  I wonder whether it really matters to a guest, whether or not they get what their own family had prepared for decades, while being fed some concoction that is foreign to them, by a non family member.  This process is not an easy one to take up in one's mind.  It all requires a certain amount of education, and it is a lonely road to travel, at times.  You are insulated from others as you sit in front of your TV set, preparing yourself by watching Hell's Kitchen.

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