Why cook well?

The following is my entry in Anthony Bourdain’s Medium Raw Challenge. If you like it, please take a moment to vote for me at the contest site.

Why cook well?

Why do anything well? Why make sure your belt goes through all the loops when you leave the house? Why listen to music? Why wash your hair? Why paint a painting? Why make love?

Why take part in the world? Why not allow yourself to perish in a tsunami of mediocrity? What does it matter if your voice is heard above the noise floor of the standardless class?

Without some kind of goal, some kind of measure of success in what you do, you’re getting beaten by inanimate objects in the perilous horse-race that is corporeality. Crystals are forming out of randomness. Volcanoes are burping out archipelagoes from a roiling sea. And yet you sit, paralyzed by ennui, waiting to be fed you care not what.

May I introduce you to organic matter? Against what astronomical odds did those oxygen, carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen molecules assemble themselves into that mouthful of succulent beef? How did the universe so wrong you that you feel a fitting payback is to over-salt it? To cook it grey and dry? To let some faceless conglomeration dictate that a pimply-faced teen drench it in high fructose corn syrup, slap it between two slices of aerated starch and toss it into a styrofoam carton for you?

Why read a book? Why attempt to better yourself? Why not instead leave cuisine to the effete and the elite, while your utility food propels your pathetic husk through another in a near-endless, mind-numbing parade of joyless days? You’ve got more important things to do. Jam a meal-ready-to-sit-undigested-in-your-colon into your gaping maw and go see if American Idol recorded on your Tivo. But hurry! It’s almost bedtime!

Why partake of the fruits of the earth on which you tread? Why attempt to master elements and energy, to create beauty where before was only raw matter? Why commune intimately with your most primal animal desires, and attempt to elevate your base and disgusting bodily functions to the point where your mouth becomes a finely honed instrument that discerns, gauges, interprets, instructs, informs that vast unused brain, trains those clumsy, dumb, thick paws? Why indeed share your passion for consumption, and why impart upon those at your table the essence of the inexpressible through your mastery of the physical realm, of science, of art?

Why cook well?

Cook well to express your appreciation, through your effort and your critical and sensual faculties, for the mere fact that you have before you a practically limitless harvest upon which to feast. And if you don’t feel you owe anything to your friends, to your family, or to the universe, in exchange for the fact that you are able to not only eat but to taste, and to sit down at the table with your fork and knife upright in your fists and demand “What’s for dinner,”  all I can say is, “Your machine-assembled deep-fried fruit pie awaits.”