Category: Religion

White pepper is awesome. Also, this is sort of about faith

I’ve reached the point, in my autoeducation as a cook, where I no longer really measure spices or indeed many liquids. This is great for saving time and for not having to rinse a measuring cup every time I need a quarter-unit of something. It is less great when something I make turns out well and I want to write down the recipe for the future. “A bunch of white pepper,” I find myself writing. “Like, as much as a good cook would put in but then also some more.”

If I could always trust myself to make the same judgments based on words like that I wouldn’t have any problems, but I have no faith in Locke and therefore I am not even sure I’m the same person who started this post, much less the one who cooked a pretty good spaghetti nonbolognese earlier tonight. Also it is probably going to be unhelpful in my inevitable cooking blog.

The (thoroughly hidden) point I wanted to record here is that I’m kind of a good cook now? I’m still working in a very small range, but I keep trying new things and they keep turning out pretty okay. I think cooking is, like kissing and biking, essentially a matter of confidence. The food will believe you’re in charge if you act like it.

I learned to cook spaghetti in ten-gallon vats, almost exactly ten years ago, when Jeremy Sissle got me a job at Fazoli’s. He was also the one who trained me on pasta-cooking rotation. We got to the end, and he hauled out the hose, sponges and soap. “Turn on the hot water,” he said, “and fill the bucket, add about this much soap, and… I mean, you know how to clean stuff.”

I still recite that sentence to myself in scary and uncertain places. It sounds stupid, but I did know how to clean stuff, and remembering that snapped me out of the standard lost-and-seasick feeling that everybody gets from new jobs. (At least, I assume everybody else gets it too.)

The other half of my cook-with-confidence mantra was posted by Kevan, years ago, in a comment on Leonard’s site: “I’ve only recently stopped… expecting food to be an inedible, inert, black lump of Syntax Error if I get something slightly wrong.” It’s so true, and such a perfect encapsulation of the way programmers approach other disciplines: raised by severe machines and math problems with one answer, we expect frustration as a punishment for the smallest mistakes (and indeed, with computers, that often remains the case). But once you realize that the notion of discrete measurement is a consensual hallucination, you find the world a more interesting place. Screw Locke. I’m glad I’m not the same person I used to be.

Hey Mom, let me know if you want this post to be #1 in the Google results for their names

There are certain words I never expected to see my mother use in print, and “pimped” is one of them. Just one reason why I’m happy to see her blogging again.

If you read Mo-Jo, you’re already aware that after years of mounting mismanagement, condescension and outright lies from the diocesan administration, my mother’s willingness to stand up for her school and her students finally got her fired. She has another job now, but (no offense to any booksellers present) she deserves a better one; if you happen to be aware of teaching or library-related jobs in central Kentucky for someone with an MAEd (but not an MLS), please let me know and I’ll pass the news to her.

For Lent I am giving up my headphones. In addition, I have two places where I can catch a bus home: right out in front of my work building, or a twenty-minute walk away on Bardstown. The buses on Bardstown are faster and more frequent, and I actually enjoy the walk a lot, but I am lazy. I am giving up not making the walk every day. Without my headphones!

The general approach most Catholics I know have toward these forty-day abstentions is a mix of self-denial and self-improvement–I gave up soda several years running, because I like soda, but avoiding it is good for me. This year I’m doing one thing for denial and another for the benefit. It’s object-oriented Lent.

The Central Ethos of Harry Potter

I’m not sure what Fantine was going to say, but here’s my overanalysis: the central ethos of Harry Potter–that one should trust children to be competent, but shield them from the consequences of failure; that a parent should protect them from harm, but never information–is a highly political one. It’s also already stated in about a jillion other YA books, but when was the last time it was distributed on such a scale? When was the last time it was internalized so widely, so willingly, outside the classroom, by children and adults?

It’s at that question that I start to wonder what the book-burning groups are really out to fight.