But when we really need to get our culinary mojo going, we find ourselves bypassing the pictures and spending some time with an overlooked section of the book: the prologue.
Here's Thomas Keller's simple wisdom:
"When you acknowledge, as you must, that there is no such thing as perfect food, only the idea of it, then the real purpose of striving toward perfection becomes clear: to make people happy. That's what cooking is all about."
And just like that, we remember why we love cooking. We remember that there's more to cooking than putting food on a plate or outdoing ourselves and each other with one impressive dish after another. We remember that it's a way of connecting, nourishing, and sustaining bodies and spirits through the day.
Our food culture here in the United States is complicated (to put it mildly!). It's so easy to get caught up thinking that the issues are black and white and that food itself is good or bad. Or that we're good or bad depending on the foods we eat, the diets we stick to, or the rules we put on ourselves. This can be isolating and, well, not very happy!
So in these first trembling days of spring, let's all take a deep breath and share a smile at what brings us together: our love of good food, belonging to a community of kindred spirits, and getting our hands dirty in the kitchen.
(Photo Credit: Thomas Keller Restaurant Group)