Running without a Map

Why are there 18-wheelers all around me? Why am I surrounded by warehouses? Where is the Boston skyline? I'm bringing a map next time. - Me, three weeks ago, while losing myself in East Boston on a morning run.

This road seems a lot longer than before - I don't recognize any of the buildings. Oh crap, Arlington Heights. I'm definitely bringing a map next time. - Me, two weeks ago, after making a wrong turn on the Minuteman trail.

I remember seeing green on the map somewhere around here, but it's suburban sprawl in all directions. I'll just follow this sign and check out Malden. - Me, this Saturday, doing a terrible job of following my own advice.

My approach towards cooking often ends up similar to running: an ambitious goal fueled by enthusiasm and curiosity leads to a comedy of errors from a lack of formal or methodical training. A marathon of cookie-preparation leads to shortbread cookies that are almost too crumbly to pick up. Arrowroot barely salvages an attempt at yogurt from fat-free milk. Mistakenly making vegan "mayonnaise" with silken, instead of extra-firm, tofu leads to unappetizing yellow goop. Whole spice garam masala is ground finely and added at the wrong time in a recipe. Each of these experiences inspires me to learn more about the particular technique, which to me is far more interesting than following a recipe and making something that's just "good."

However, one of the greatest things about being a home chef (and a grad student) is the ability to fail often and with relatively minor consequences. This isn't pediatric neurosurgery. No paying dinner guests or restaurant reviewers are tasting my food. A failed experiment in lab just means I'll need to try again the next day. I'm looking forward to making as many types of mistakes in my cooking and research as I can over the next several years, before entering the "real world." This is prime-time to practice my mistake-making skills, so I don't end up in a rut of making the same mistakes.

John: You should really carry a map or some directions with you next time.
Me: Yeah, I'll do that.
John: That was totally unconvincing.

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