P is for Perfectionist Cooking
For most things in life, my motto is “Good enough.”
Parallel parking: Eh, I’m not blocking anyone. Good enough.
Writing papers: I could get a “B” for this. Good enough.
Even some of my blog posts: I’m not saying anything offensive, right? Ok, it’s good enough.
(Don’t tell anyone about that last one. 😉 )
As long as I’m satisfied with the outcome, I’m pretty laid back about how things turn out.
Not the case when it comes to cooking. If it’s my job to make a dish, it has to be perfect.
For as long as I can remember, I have had a love for cooking. When I was in elementary school, my mom bought me a Rachel Ray cookbook for kids, and I worked through a good number of those recipes and eventually graduated to one of her adult cookbooks. I took every cooking class that my middle school and high school offered, and I even joined a cooking competition during my junior year of high school. Cooking is something I take a lot of pride in.
However it always has to be perfect. If I end up adding too much salt or not enough seasonings or the chicken is too dry, I get so hard on myself. I see my cooking as meant to please others, so when I feel like it didn’t do that as well as it could have, I feel like I failed.
Usually, if I have a recipe to follow, the dish ends up turning out pretty good. However, that magic only worked with American cooking. When it comes to Indian and Arab food, which requires a keen eye and tongue over stable measurements, I fall apart. I have never been able to make an Indian dish taste the same way twice. I’ve dabbled a little bit into Chinese cooking as well, and the results are just as inconsistent and disappointing.
If I feel like the dish won’t turn out amazing, I have little to no motivation to make it at all. This is the fear I have about ever living on my own or needing to cook for a family. I can make really great dishes, alhamdulillah, but they require a lot of time and effort. The simpler, quick, “good enough” dishes aren’t actually good enough for me to try to make. So if I’m the one cooking, I’ll either spend hours making a meal fit for a king, or we’ll be eating ramen and leftovers.
I’m sure it will take time to loosen up as well as gain more skills in quickly throwing ingredients together, but right now I feel the things that I make are either 0 or 100.