Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Eric Lewis - Clocks

I love this Ted Series. If I still lived in California, I’d be thinking of some way to save money and attend – at some point in my life.

The whole idea behind Ted is re-thinking things in new ways – a difficult thing to do. Some of us just don’t work that way too well. That’s what sets the innovators and entrepreneurs apart from the followers and last-to-implementers.

Eric Lewis is an innovator. He’s found a link between rock and jazz – and developed an innovative way of taking an orchestral sound and reproducing it on a piano. I learned about him on an NPR interview on Friday.

I’m not a visionary. My strength doesn’t come from designing new software, recipes, or businesses. However, I seem to excel at understanding a principle or concept – and then utilizing it in unexpected ways. This shows up over and over in the way I work with our company software, the video software to create webinars, and the graphics software package we use at church, and my cooking. I hope it will also show up in my writing.

It’s difficult sometimes for me to remember that everyone doesn’t share the same strengths. I’m working with a co-worker on his first attempt at a webinar. I find myself repeatedly asking him to expand and stretch what he’s asked to demonstrate. I want him and not just point something out, I want him to explain the concept, and then demonstrate the principle in action. I want him link theory and utilization in his demonstrations so our customers don't have to make that leap themselves.

I find a similarity between this teaching skill and cooking and writing too. SHOW the customer/dinner guest/reader how something works/tastes/feels – don’t TELL THEM.

I always think of the saying “Do as I say, not as I do”. Why do we hear that so often? Because we know SEEING is much more powerful than being told. Our examples, be they the way we conduct our lives – or put together a meal, is much more illuminating.

A good friend of mine has gone the self-publishing route with her book, Faking It. She wrote a guest post on my blog about the book and food. (Ha, imagine that she would write about FOOD on my blog!)

Anyway – in thinking about food – I was thinking about the difference between passion (what her story is about) and competence. I’m not even sure how competent you can be about something without a smidgeon of passion. There are three examples of passion vs lack of competence that come to mind.

When I was very young – still living at home, I remember being invited to stay for dinner at a friend’s house. Dinner that night consisted of boiled, then broiled, hot-dogs. They were so overcooked (did you know you could over cook a hotdog? I didn’t until that night) that I barely managed to swallow a few bites. As a kid I didn’t like hotdogs to begin with (too salty and spicy) but dry, wrinkled BURNT hotdogs … yick. Can you imagine my surprise when they opened a catering business? I seriously did not believe someone who could so thoroughly ruin something as simple as hotdogs could be a caterer. And I was right. They catered three events that I attended: a hospital volunteer luncheon, a high school band Christmas Dinner and a prom dinner. Each meal was an astounding presentation of uninspired, bland, boring food. I bet most of it came from #10 cans.

When I moved here to North Carolina, I encountered my next run in with a mediocre cook. I met a woman who’d returned to school to get a degree in the culinary arts. I don’t think she’s passionate about food – at all. In fact, she confessed to me that the reason she chose that degree was because she thought it would be an easy and flexible job that would allow her to be a "some-what" stay-at-home mom. My mind boggled at that reason to choose COOKING as a profession. I think her food shows that lack of interest too. Most of it takes little time to prepare and is something covered in gloppy sauces. She uses stuff pre-cooked, pre-portioned, and almost always out of a can or package. Rarely is she imaginative in her menues. I love food too much to ever consider that cooking.

I just met the final person. A few weeks ago she mentioned she’d also owned a catering business in the past. Then last week she said, “I don’t really like food. I only eat it because I have to.” HOW THE HELL can you be a good caterer if you don’t LIKE food? I mean, I guess it’s true. We have to eat in order to survive, and some people only cook so they have something to eat. But … there’s no way I’m willingly to eat bland, bad tasting food. Or “pre-prepared" food where the major flavor componet is sodium.

When ever I run into someone who says they love boxed or bagged meals - or rotisery chicken from the gorcery store - I just want to take their hand and say to them, “Here, let me show you how GOOD that can taste. Then you’ll want to make it from scratch too.” Of course, there are those bland eaters out there – who think that chain-restaurant food IS THE BEST – and want whatever they cook to taste just like that. The idea of emulating corporate food makes me feel bleak.

For me, cooking is about understanding the principles that make a recipe work - the texture and flavor combinations - the different cooking and preparation skills - and then linking them together with other recipes to make a harmonious meal. I love telling my guests why they fit together and what complimenting flavors and ingredients to look for. I guess you could say my real passion is education.

So – what’s your passion? How do you incorporate it into other areas of your life?


G Liz said...

Mit! I loved reading this blog - especially the part about 'eating to survive'...I have NEVER understood how a person could not enjoy eating!!!

As for my passion, I guess you could say it is being a ham! I love to entertain! :-) I use it with my job every day - how else can I sell ads in this tough economy!

MitMoi said...

lol - the topic is passion for "food" and then you say, "I love being a ham."

If you were a dry-cured ham I might love you just a little bit more than I do. But I doubt it!

Anonymous said...

I guess my passion is eating - not cooking !!! My other passion is reading & as you know, collecting rocks ! Think of the wonderful inheritance you are going to have someday !!! Hee hee
I never thought about cooking as a science, like you do. I know it is, but it just seems to elude me. tp

I H8 24 said...

How can you not like food??? I wish I had that problem. I do the scratch cooking as you know, but it's a totally different style from yours. Someone once said something to my husband about eating at Cracker Barrel. He told them, "Cracker Barrel is like Donna's cooking without the flavor!" I have branched out to try new things, but sometimes the southern roots in me draws me back to the old favorites of beans, potatoes, cornbread, and fried meat! I guess my cooking reflects my personality.....a good old dependable standby that will accept change, but is gonna gripe about it! Very good post, Mit!