Prepare yourself as I’m going to start preaching about the evils of microwaves.
Let me preface this by stating this is not a hippie sermon about the dangers of irradiating food, or about gamma rays convincing our personal DNA to manifest a third appendix (as if one wasn’t superfluous enough), or even any comedic observational chestnut about how in a matter of 13 seconds the food goes from the temperature of the surface of Mercury to that of the temperament of a spouse that got a hole punch for a birthday gift…
I’m talking about the devil’s oven that has contributed to the corruption of our expectations of time. This wicked tool that has rendered the prerequisite of patience regarding mealtime null and void. This boson bombardment box that has robbed us of the anticipation of a delicious dinner through the slowly building olfactory crescendo of salivation-inducing aromas in exchange for the two to five minute roaring of ozone production punctuated with a Pavlovian perforated beep.
The greatest crime committed by the introduction of the magic hot food box is its displacement of the art of cooking. When preparing a meal, we first try a new recipe in which we blend and prepare a specific set of ingredients, combine and cook it into a specific dish, then upon tasting it we determine what we could shift or change in the recipe, its process, and/or its ingredients to make it more enjoyable. The only variance to microwave meals we can apply is choosing which corner of the plastic film we will peel back. “Venting the northwest corner yielded a more oaky polypropylene last time. This time we’ll try the southwest corner.”
Each foray into meal preparation is a practice, an experiment, a new and completely altered experience. We find ourselves refining the process each time in perpetuity; even when we nail the recipe and produce the perfect meal there is no guarantee we will do so again. Yet we try, we attempt, we give it our best time and time again.
It is in this inexhaustible pursuit which gives birth the the beauty of the result. Yet the result is not the end in and of itself. We know however delicious or disappointing our meal turns out, we will invariably need to eat again, so we shall cook again. The result is not merely determined by robotically following a set of instructions, it is colored and shaded and accentuated and detailed by the attention we pay in each step of the process, by the depth of absorption we find in even the most seemingly banal and tedious component. When we treat each piece of the process like it is the lode-bearing step, giving it the attention and care that a surgeon would give each incision, the end result will always speak to the process.