They don’t really tell you about this when you start. Perhaps they don’t consider it very significant, as if it doesn’t really matter if you loose a wee bit of the passion you had before you started. I have heard people talk about a special kind of passion. But no one is ever specific about what that passion actually is. Is it the experience of explosive flavour combinations in your mouth? Using your hands to make food? The creating of something new? The whirlwind of standing in a kitchen, every day, and then going home, putting your feet up and reminiscing on how quickly you moved about the pots and pans? Is it seeing people enjoying your food, them experiencing something new? Challenging people’s taste buds? What were they talking about?
Sometimes I just wish you could experience it. This feeling similar to no other, as if entering an industrial kitchen and staying there all day at that stove is actually a different world. Working with ingredients you can’t buy from a supermarket. And here in Paris; working with vegetables you can’t even buy in New Zealand. Choux roux; you either peal this with a knife, dice it and eat it raw through a salad or create a paste by using a food processor and then mixing it in a dish to add a hidden flavour. It’s fresh, not tart, the flavour a combination of celery and raw broccoli. But it’s good.
These days are not drawn out, there is a clock on the wall above the knives but it is glanced at only from time to time with the response, “I can’t believe it’s already…” It makes home life a question of “couch or floor?” My legs have never been so tired in all my life. And more than that, you are surrounded by food every minute of the day. Your hands, elbows deep in water filled with small white button mushrooms, your hands covered with the dirt from which your vegetables grew in, and the juice of cucumbers and red peppers cling to your now soiled apron. And then everything is combined and cooked or mixed, plated and presented to the people who will pay for the experience of great taste in an environment they enjoy.
Before I had entered this world, when I assumed the presence of food in my days to be something I would consistently take pleasure in and when there was no one to tell me about this bizarre way of life, I didn’t expect to loose interest in any one of my meals. I almost want to say it in a whisper, as if it’s not really that true, that it is only a reflection of this world sometimes, but there are moments when the thought of food leaves you a slight nonchalant. Which I still can't believe considering food can be displayed like this in France:
Perhaps the special kind of passion is a love, regardless of how many hours you are surrounded by food, you will always look forward to what you will next slice with your knife or pick with your fingers and pop into your mouth.
But it’s not gone. It’s still all inside of me. The desire to come home from that day of cooking things that I didn’t feel like eating at the time, and sitting down to a home-made meal, a me-made meal, has not gone away. Sometimes the desire for that next meal comes threaded through the desire for things to be just a little bit more simple.