The Jazz Sporker: My First Talkie
This past Saturday, with the help of my good buddies over at Onward Entertainment, I took a giant leap towards achieving a dream that I’ve had festering in the back of my mind for a long time. For those of you who read this blog, it may not surprise you that this particular dream is to make a cooking show. For as long as I can remember, performance art (theatre, music and comedy) and cooking have been the two biggest competing passions in my life, each winning out at certain times over the other and vice versa. Because of this competition, I never felt like I was giving either my full attention for the amount of time needed to accomplish anything substantial. At this point in my life, I am losing interest in doing anything that isn’t substantial. Our lives and our time are absolutely precious and to continue wasting them away in front of the TV, or whatever your fill-in-the-blank-sedentary-activity-of-choice may be, is ultimately cheating ourselves of finding sustained fulfillment in our lives. Whether or not I actually achieve what I am looking to do is, in a way, completely beside the point. For now, I am perfectly happy with the point being that I have picked a spot on a map and started walking towards it. The pursuit of happiness and the pursuit of a goal are one in the same. It is the purpose that begets the pleasure.
Although my parents did a fine job of trying to get me and my older brother out of the house to play sports or ride bikes when we were kids, we did end up whining and pouting our way into having a fair amount of time to play video games and so it is hard for me to not think of making progress in anything as “leveling up.” The correlation is pretty straight-forward: in video games, once you accrue a certain amount of “experience points,” you gain a higher level; in life, after you accrue a certain amount of experiences, you gain new abilities and skills that will conceivably help you on your way towards achieving what you want out of life. For some of us, it is saving Princess Peach from Bowser, for others it’s about getting that job we’ve always wanted or learning how to repair your own car. In any case, it is immensely satisfying to spend time learning how to do something and then after some time and practice, being able to do it with skill and confidence.
There is a certain feeling of freedom and independence related to being able to do something for yourself and to not have to depend on someone else to do it for you. After all, the old adage suggests that “dependence breeds resentment” and I’ve found it to be true, even if it’s in varying degrees, but perhaps it is better stated that “independence breeds empowerment,” as that is something I have found to be more consistently spot on than anything else. My point to all of this is to say that I have begun to notice a pattern in my life where there is a direct correlation between my ability to level up and having access to good information. Without spending hours and hours watching training videos on Lynda.com, I wouldn’t have been able to create this website. Without getting my college degree, I probably couldn’t have gotten my first “real” job. Without watching a bunch of cooking shows in high school and college, I wouldn’t have been able to bullshit my way into getting my first cooking job and begin learning hands-on from real professionals. One of my favorite things about cooking shows is that, dissimilar to the vast majority of the stuff you see on TV, these shows are striving to teach us something (beyond the basic and obvious need to be entertaining). It’s been said, many times, many ways, Merry Christmas–er rather–art that both entertains and enlightens is indeed the best art of all. In addition to the fact that making a cooking show is the perfect blend of my two biggest passions, it is also meaningful to me that it is a medium where I can begin to slowly repay the debt of education I have been lucky enough to receive during my time on this planet.
Along the same lines, I very strongly believe that cooking should be taught in schools as a part of the general curriculum. It is a true shame that the foundation for this once existed within our schools but under such sexist and stereotypical pretenses and so it, of course, had to go. But similar to the way in which radiation therapy kills more than just the cancer cells, by stomping out the misogynistic undertones of “Home Ec,” we have also driven out a critical opportunity to teach our students one of the most valuable skills one can have in life, which is the ability to cook for one’s self. It’s also about more than just using a sharpened piece of metal and some fire to create Taco Night on Tuesdays, food is the perfect context to teach our young minds about budgeting and planning, about nutrition and how our bodies work, about our neighbors and their cultures (and delicious foods), about agriculture and chemistry, and even about logistics, economics and the politics behind them (imports, exports, and so on). The fact is that we all have to eat and so what better context is there to learn about the world in which we live than through the eyes of something we come in contact with multiple times a day? Food is personal. It’s relatable. It’s kinda everything. Remind me again why we don’t teach it in schools?
It is my sincere hope that we can all maintain a certain level of curiosity about the world we live in, and furthermore, I hope that all who wonder have access to the information they seek. It’s a shame to me how few people I meet that feel like that they have any level of confidence in the kitchen. Cooking a great meal is something that we all can do, most of us just haven’t been given the right tools, information and/or encouragement that we need in order to succeed and dispel the mystery that cooking is some kind of magic. Shooting my first cooking video on Saturday went a long way in helping me get on the track to realizing a dream, but I also hope that one day I can help open up the world of cooking to someone else. I am excited to share it with you and hope to be able to quite soon. Check back later this summer to see the finished product!
While shooting on Saturday, we needed something quick and easy to eat to both cool us down from standing in front of the hot lights on set but also to fill us up with good nutrition that would sustain us throughout the long day. This gazpacho really did the trick. I made it the day before and it was great to have some slow-cooked flavor at the ready. Give this recipe a try and I think you’ll find yourself coming back to it again and again all summer long!