In Defense of English Cooking (p.971)
Cooking is hardly in my purview because I have unknowingly adopted a pedestrian attitude: cooking is strictly a function of something else, whether it is sustenance, occupation, or eating to avoid conversation, to give a few common examples. There are many more ways cooking is made a function of other things, but at the heart of each is the use of cooking as a type of utility to increase-self interest through future effects.
It is challenging to separate results-oriented cooking (the functional use) and means-oriented cooking because each one of us needs to eat and drink to survive, so on some level, cooking food will always be a function of sustenance, or result-orientation. However, limiting cooking to a functional activity due to that is like settling for basic literary devices because they fulfill the basic requirement for communication.
We are not all fascinated with writing, you may say, so we just use what we have learned to communicate the best as possible. I understand that, and I am not on a crusade to turn every person into a copy of me; the world would end quickly. However, this is not just an argument about cooking or writing or anything that we use as tools of obtaining other things. There is going to be an element of result-orientation in our engagements, but that just means there is also an element of means-orientation; focusing on this moment. For someone like me it comes more naturally to appreciate and communicate the means of my craft, and much less natural to do so with cooking. But can I be so arrogant as to say I cannot transfer some knowledge and understanding of an activity I am adept onto one I am inept?
Writing and cooking are different, you may say. You are right, at least in manifestation. Is it not true that in both tasks you determine what goes into the pot and what does not, when to add or withhold, and when you need to walk away and let the recipe gel? I will not be arrogant and say that writing is inherently more creative than cooking simply because I have allowed cooking to remain out of my purview. If anything I have evaded it because of all the complexities and combinations involved. The temperatures and times to combine the ingredients! The spices! From where I sit, writing is actually simpler than cooking, but that is because of my subjective orientation to the matter, not because of an objective perspective.
Thus, the more significant aspect here is our general attitude rather than the quest to figure out natural strengths and weaknesses, because an open general attitude allows us to engage almost any task with the same candor and openness, regardless of level of ability. It is not easy, however our attitude is one of the roots of our existential tree; it determines the qualities and characteristics of everything we come into contact with. Make one adjustment to the root system, and everything that comes after will be effected.
Both writing and cooking are excellent examples of crafts that are easily viewed solely as results-oriented, because by design they are tools. Functionality simply manifests self-interested effects, but does not govern our ability to learn about other vocations, making it inherently--though passively--means-oriented as well. Adopting a different attitude would avail a more of these means, because we would not be so focused on the finite result of what we are immediately doing. In other words, we would be actively searching for life lessons, rather than just taking cooking lessons or writing lessons.
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