When the fine, skilled and unfathomably attractive (if you are unfamiliar with Stockholm Syndrome – SEND HELP) wardens of my past first unshackled me from my familiar shadowy bonds, handed me a laptop and thrust me into the light of day, my first reaction was a somewhat indignant, “and what the heck took you so long?” Ok, yes, I’m proud…but it’s not exactly something I’m proud of.
Granted, the shackles were figurative and the light of day idiomatic but I could not deny the vastness of potential quite literally at my fingertips.
In the stoic style of warrior poets before me, I couldn’t help but think, “if the pen is mightier than the sword, then surely the self-indulgent blog is mightier than the finest damascus steel.” As one who thrives on sharing my own experiences every bit as much as I live to learn from those of others, the possibilities are truly beyond limit.
Still, true damascus steel… To this day, I’ve never owned a damascus knife…and it IS the holiday season (German-forged…with 8″ European-style, laser-etched 22-degree cutting blade…and a sweet “SB” monogram…oh my god, I’d look SO hot…)…
I accepted the opportunity with a gleeful skip in my step, ferociously embracing the chance to learn so much about the craft and myself along the way – and it certainly wasn’t long before the whole thing paid off with Epiphany Number One.
You see, there comes a time in the tender young life of many a burgeoning foodie where you come face to face with a rather startling, ages-old realization. Perhaps you have experienced a similarly blinding moment of enlightenment in your own past, though yours likely came long before mine. In typically dramatic Sauce Boss fashion, I was a late bloomer – but, hey, I did bloom.
I was barely into my personal pre-blog Dionysian ritual – jazz wailing, java percolating, lava lamp flowing – when it struck me. I had spent years laboring, toiling even, under the misguided and illusory burden that I was an obnoxiously picky eater when that was never the case at all. Turns out, I was always just a snob!! It’s not that I only appreciated food in a limited capacity. No, quite the contrary. The fact was I savored the subtleties of food so much that when I disliked something, I disliked it with an unholy magnification.
My heart practically sang as I dropped to my knees and basked in the glorious illumination of the newly-opened heavens; a high voltage hum of utter relief tinging the air around me like a cacophonous choir.
Well…that’s how I remember it, anyway. It was a couple days ago. The core point, however, is simple: good food does not have to be fancy, though fancy food can, indeed, be amazing. What makes a meal superb and memorable are the elements that go into it; the ingredients, the attention, the process and the execution. With those weapons in the arsenal, a raging lack of natural talent can be readily overcome. A perfectly-cooked slab of quality 80/20 chuck on the right toasted bun can stop the show every bit as effectively as the most intricate offering. But therein lies the problem – who puts the time and paranoid effort into a “basic” burger anymore? Well I do, and you should too, but that’s a topic for another lecture…oops, entry.
My [long-overdue] point? When we come to tolerate mediocrity as an elemental component of a meal…when we routinely “phone it in” due to laziness, disinterest or a general lack of confidence…then it becomes increasingly difficult to get excited about food on any deeper level. Rather than fighting this pattern and demanding better, many of us slouch our shoulders in defeatist acceptance and begin to migrate toward those foods that suffer the least from this self-imposed mediocrity – flagrantly selling out our taste buds to the lowest bidder in a gustatory race to the bottom…I’m looking at you, fast food joints and boxed mac & cheese. In such an apocalyptic nightmare, how can the palate become anything other than a jaded, disenchanted wanderer, increasingly reliant on a decreasingly broad selection of culinary preferences which it can still consider relative safe havens?
Still, accepting that as an end result is a cop-out…and The Sauce Boss doesn’t do cop-outs. Cooking is, above all else, an art…and what is more exciting than re-discovering a lost one? There is no dish too modest to impress if you really want it to, and every dish is worthy of a re-visit. Let’s just call that Epiphany Number Two.
So the next time you cross paths with a misjudged pariah or some lonely soul brandishing the tell-tale sunken gaze of a castigated “picky eater,” reach out with a warm smile and an understanding handshake… Heck, give them a big hug (unless you don’t know them, but that sort of thing’s really got to go without saying… Seriously, don’t repeat my painful mistake… I blame myself, really)