“Instead of studying Locke,– I go make an apple pie, or study Joy of Cooking, reading it like a rare novel.” -Sylvia Plath
Setting the irony of this topic and her suicide aside, I recently finished an article about the poetess, Sylvia Plath, and her fondness of cooking, baking and entertaining. The article noted that she avoided the dreary task of creating her College lesson plans by determinedly mixing up culinary concoctions in the kitchen. She sidestepped her unbearable writers block and evaded her baneful writing desk through her constant stirring and frying and mincing.
“For Sylvia Plath, baking was a form of therapy.” I understand the therapy of culinary avoidance. The day a critical deadline looms is always the precise instance I have to, without a moment’s interruption, test that cookie recipe that’s been lingering in my recipe box for the last five years. Couldn’t it wait until a more appropriate time? No, it must be baked – and it must be baked now. The work, the project, the stress-inducing deadline can wait. We must withdraw to the kitchen for the genuine “work”.
Tonight, for example, I had four hours of projects that needed finishing. Procrastinating all week, I knew that I’d have plenty of weekend time for completion. But then…I realized…at about 4:30 this afternoon…that my freezer was harboring the Alaskan halibut a friend had caught months before. It must be lonely and languishing inside the sub zero after all this time. I could almost hear it through the stainless steel door – it must be released into the culinary daylight. So, I placed the frozen block of halibut in water for thawing, hurried to the grocery store (note – Superbowl Sunday is a great time for grocery shopping), wrestled the Cuisinart down from its dusty pantry shelf, preheated the oven and proceeded to create:
Sylvia’s roasted halibut with blood-orange scented yams and salsa verde. My assignments can wait until Monday.