I love to go to a restaurant and enjoy the creation of others, but I've never created a signature dish, or have taken the time to tweak a recipe until it was just right. Since cooking has always been a task, I've never experienced the passion of it. To hear you talk so lovingly about what you create is just so darn cool.
So it boils down to this... you want to find that passion, but unfortunately, it can not be taught to you. You must find it yourself. I learned how to cook because I was never home at meal times. Back then, the microwave oven was still on the horizon, so if i wanted a hot meal, I had to learn to do it myself (That old necessity is the means of invention
saying). But, I was lucky enough to have a mother and grand mother who were excellent cooks, so when they were cooking, I'd watch and they'd let me put in the spices. It was like chemistry with food. The passion came later when I would take standard recipes and tweak them slightly to make them even better. Food can be a sensual experience. I love seeing someone take a bite of something I whipped up, and that look of almost orgasmic expression appears on their face.
So if I can teach you one thing when it comes to cooking it is this... To be a great cook you must have an arrogance that says, Nobody can make this recipe better than me
. There are certain recipes that I make, that I know that Wolfgang Puck, Emeril Legasse, et al, could not make any better. You give me a recipe and I'll make it step by step the first time. But the next time, I'm going to tweak it slightly to give it more flavor and I'll continue to tweak it until I'm sure that is the best it can possibly be, and that no one has ever made it that good before. Once you have achieved this, make your final recipe for friends, but don't tell them it's something special that you've been working on. Just serve it like it's no big deal, and watch their faces when they take a bite. If it goes suddenly quiet, and then you start to hear them emitting low moans of pleasure, look up to see if anyone is rolling back their eyes in pleasure, if so, then you've been successful *. Soak in the moment and don't look for a compliment (because sometimes they just say it's great to be nice
), be thankful for the visual evidence of their happiness. The first time this happens for you, a seed of culinary passion will be sown in you. It is then up to you to nurture that passion and expand upon it.
One thing my wife hears me say a lot is this... I pity people who don't know how to cook, they don't know what they are missing. If you're going to have to eat everyday to survive, you might as well make it a king's feast, every chance you get.
* - Like my grand mother, when I'm feeding a group of people, I always come up with some excuse to go back into the kitchen when we start the meal. I don't want them to feel obligated to compliment. You miss the initial expressions on their faces, but you'll hear the moaning if they like it. That expression returns with each bite if they like it anyway.