There is a fabled, mystical, wonderful place in life called The Soup Zone.
Unfortunately, it is not accessible all the time, but at certain times of the day, specifically at around 4 PM, you can reach it if you try.
You reach it when you chop up your veggies and heat some good-quality extra virgin olive oil, none of that “lite” stuff, and saute away, smiling at the spelling of the word “sauteing”. You reach it when you totally space out and let broth trickle out of the carton onto the counter and then laugh at yourself, then dip your spoon into the pot again and again, meticulously contriving the perfect blend of spices for this particular concoction. Mint in fruit soups, lemon zest with summery produce, oregano and basil and a good helping of tomato in everything else.
For some other cooks it might be the Stir-Fry Zone, or the Cupcake Decorating Zone, or the Brownie Zone…mmm, well, I actually think I myself have tapped into that last one a few times. (But I never eat brownie batter raw, no siree, not me!)
Every cook lives for their Zone. That one dish that has the power to make them feel more like themselves than anything else ever could. Food is such a powerful thing, warming us up, giving us fuel to face the day with a full stomach, conjuring memories of simpler times (I’m looking at you, blue-box macaroni). I love that magic moment when
snow rain is falling down outside, the world is heading into hibernation, and you’ve got plenty of homework you should be doing but instead you choose to stand coddling your pot of deliciousness as it simmers. Pretty soon your whole house smells like smoked paprika or something and you’re salivating so hard it physically hurts and you’re pretty sure you’re going to die if you don’t taste it so you slurp a spoonful and burn your tongue.
That one scalding spoonful is always the sweetest.