Tim Duncan, Kobe Bryant, de-I
The greats all retiring. For me it is retiring from entertainment cooking.
For all of my adult life, cooking as an art, as an expression of creativity has been a major part of life. I remember the first cookbook (a James Beard paperback) that led to the first creative meals in an apartment I shared with a guy while in the Army. Party upon party through the years of my children growing up, massive events later on, recruiting a cadre of people who would 'just eat' and not worry about inviting me back so I had an audience to perform for - all these defined a major part of me.
But like so much else, as I finally embraced transition as the right thing to be doing as an older person, I have found it is time to let this go.
As I wrote last month about balancing the buckets, the core of happiness and fulfillment as you get older (in my opinion) is recognizing the reality of your personal energy situation and finding the balance of activities and the energy they require use and not abuse that energy (nor have too much energy left over so you are bored!)
It has taken me over a year to come to the realization that it was time to hang up the apron. I'd noted that the various entertainments I attempted left me so tired that I couldn't enjoy them. So I started to alter my menus and do less ambitious things even though doing the ambitious projects were things I loved. I also noticed that I was starting to make mistakes. Cooking for others when there is last minute prep requires working accurately at speed with hot things. In recent time some of these mistakes could have been serious in terms of damage to me or to the kitchen. Also as I've gotten older, my capability to eat and drink has diminished so my ability to enjoy my work has diminished.
The last entertainment I did brought all these trends to the fore. I was tired when my guests arrived even though I'd organized a meal not requiring anywhere near the pre-cooking I'd have done 5 years ago. I was visibly tired to the guests fairly early in the evening. It took me a day to recuperate. I wasn't impressed with my standard of cooking - I'd made errors. And while cleaning up I made an error that could have led to a fire.
Like the athlete who loves the game but can't perform at the level needed, I realized that my doing this, at this level had run its course.
In the spirit of transition, I still like to cook. But I put my efforts into just things for Wife and I where I can go slow and work within the level that I'm capable. And I think there is a less ambitious level that I can do things from time to time for family and friends. But Kitchen Stadium (so to speak)? Not any more.
Everything has its time and place and I've had a very good run in the kitchen.