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Love what you cook and cook what you love

By Ryan Cashman
On May 5, 2016

If there is one “Knowing to Cook” I’ve thought about the most, it’s this one. The last one. How do I begin to say goodbye to something that I feel like I’ve only just started? I suppose the question could be: how do I say goodbye to college? I just got here, right? 

Saying goodbye to anything you’ve grown to love is never easy. So, I guess the best way to go about it is to delve, once more, into the ethos that drives this column: food is love. 

I’ve written about this philosophy in much iteration over the last three years. I’ve told you who instilled it in me: my mother. I’ve told you why it’s important. I’ve told you about cultures, recipes, equipment, gardens, fishing, holidays, food trends, and, of course, the Italians. Through it all was this ethos. 

So, my last column, to all of you, is simply to tell you to love what you cook and to cook what you love. Don’t worry about calories. 

Don’t worry about fat content. Don’t worry about anything. Share a meal with someone. Cook with someone you love. Dig out a favorite recipe you haven’t made in too long. Try something new. Learn as much as you can. Experiment as much as you can. Accept failure and grow from it. 

Plant a garden. Go to a farmers market. Eat a fresh tomato straight from the vine. Pick apples. Grow pumpkins. Love and respect animals for the wonderful creatures that they are. And, above all, have fun. 

Have fun with everything you do. Enjoy making a meal. Take your time. Sit in your kitchen with a glass of wine or a good beer and just talk to someone. Don’t feel obligated to make anything overly complicated; remember that there is elegance in simplicity. Indulge yourself every once and a while: it’s okay. Read everything I’m saying or ignore it if it makes you happy. 

I started this column for many reasons. Chief among them was that I wanted to write something different for my college newspaper; something that the paper was without. Why not write a column about food? In the beginning, “Knowing to Cook” occupied no more than a half-page spread. Now, without fail, it occupies a full page every single week. I’m proud of that. The more you write, the more you realize that you have a lot more to say than you thought you did. 

The same is true with cooking. The more you cook, the more you realize that it becomes a part of you. Anyone who loves food understands this. Food is not just a means of fuel and survival. In a spiritual sense, it is something we cannot live without. 

Would the Italians be the Italians if they didn’t hold food in such high regard? No, they wouldn’t. They would still be Italians, but they would be different. 

For me, food is just that. I cannot live without it, physically or spiritually. I would be a drastically different person if food held no special importance in my life. I wouldn’t have gone to Italy, and I certainly wouldn’t have written this column, which, in hindsight, certain former editors may not have minded. 

The end of this column does not mark the end of my food-writing career. On the contrary, I view it as a transition. As “Knowing to Cook” ends, a whole life of exploring and writing begins. My hope is that all of you who have read this column have managed to find your own joy within it. Despite my dominating character, this column was never about or for me. It was for you; it was for you to read, enjoy, and whet your appetite. 

I’ll close with a quote from Richard Bach: “Don’t be dismayed by goodbyes. A farewell is necessary before you meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends.” 

As always: buona tavola é mangiare bene!

Dedicated to the faculty, staff, and students of Communication Department and the Theatre Arts Program, the Atherton’s, John Benvenuto, George Layng, Henry Wefing, John Paulmann, Dr. Rajgopal, Adam and Jen, Apartment 121, my Track Bros, the family Bozenhard, the Friendship Square, and my faithful readers.

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