The Secret Life: The hidden struggles of culinary hobbies

We all have talents. Sometimes it is a hidden talent. Sometimes it’s not.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but my family is a foodie family. Our talents lie in the culinary field; we are a family of cooks, hobby chefs, and bakers. If you are one of the few who can’t whip up a nice meal yourself, then you at least have the taste for one–we know our foods. When it comes to family gatherings, my family is the one to celebrate with–there is good food, and lots of it. I think this is why I (and my siblings) have become such a food brat.

I am lucky enough to have an uber-talented mother who can whip up pretty much anything, and she makes lunch for me almost every day. I used to think that much was normal. But it wasn’t until I started getting comments every day about “how good my lunch looked” or “if I could make lunch for other people” that I started realizing how blessed I am. It wasn’t until recently that I realized that not once has my mother packed me a PB&J sandwich, or even a quick ham and cheese sandwich. For me, “dead basic” is a turkey pesto sandwich with arugula and tomatoes.

So naturally, all our family and friends are aware that my mom is a spectacular cook. And the good thing is, she enjoys it too (to get a sense of to what extent she can cook, she single-handedly prepared everything in the previous picture–all in a few hours–and this is normal). Most of the time, my mom has no problem throwing huge parties and cooking for everyone.

Buuuuut we all need a break sometimes. As brilliant as my mom is, sometimes she wishes she didn’t have to cook. The thing about having a special talent in a field that everyone appreciates (like food) is that everyone expects you to showcase that talent everywhere. For my mom, it’s been ages since she’s gone to a party without having to cook for the host. Sometimes, the hosts throw parties and expect that she’s going to help them out with the cooking. She doesn’t want to let them down, but it’s rather complicated.

And in a way, I kind of understand. Instead of cooking, however, I love to bake, and it’s a simple hobby–I am nowhere near as talented as I would like to be. But there is still a bit of pressure that comes with even that. The people around me always expect me to bring cakes to parties and bake them sweets, and friends always ask when  I’ll be bringing my desserts to share. And I don’t mind at all, but it’s a little bit different for me. Unlike my mother, I hardly share my baked goods. I hardly bring my food to school, and I hardly fulfill anyone’s requests. Whenever someone asks, I smile and say, “someday.”

I don’t do it out of selfishness, though, and that isn’t to say that I don’t like sharing. The reason why I don’t like to bake all the time for other people is because they start to have expectations of me. Not that expectations are bad; everyone needs them to improve upon themselves. But I get nervous. Sure, the pictures I take of my cakes and desserts look good, but what if the taste doesn’t meet expectations? What if people end up disappointed? I know I myself have been disappointed with a lot of my own creations. I have to reach a certain standard for myself before I can present my food to other people, and I haven’t yet reached it. I don’t want to have to give people mediocre food. I do like to share my baked goods, but only when I can be proud of them–so I continue to bake at my own pace.

Even under that pressure, though, my mom and I have never once thought of hiding the fact that we can cook and bake. It’s important to address the kinds of talents you have, and to be generous about them. If there is something you love, share it with the world! Don’t suppress it, and don’t let other people dampen your passions; the fact that you have a passion is in itself a blessing.


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