Learning to cook from a rat.

I love cooking. I discovered my passion for the culinary arts about nine years ago when the film Ratatouille was released.

For those of you who don’t know, Ratatouille follows the story of Remy, a food fanatic and naturally gifted chef, in his quest to get into the fine dining scene of Paris, France. The only problem is that Remy is a rat. However with the help of a clumsy, caring human friend named Alfredo Linguini, Remy is able to live out his dreams, “cooking” through Linguini at Gusteau’s restaurant.

After seeing this movie, at the age of eight, I began cooking up a storm. It just so happened that during this time our kitchen was under renovation — but without a second thought I began creating recipe after recipe in the basement of my house where we were keeping our oven and stovetop. 

I remember one of my first creations was a pizza (my mom was starting up her gluten free pizza business at the time) loaded with purple onion, kalamata olives, spinach and artichoke hearts.

In the following years, much to my embarrassment, every gift I received for any holiday or birthday was cooking related — instead of video games or toys I got cheese knives and onion goggles (which are actually a fantastic kitchen gadget).

It was tough for me to embrace my love of cooking in public — partly because cooking wasn’t exactly, in my mind, the most manly or “cool” hobby, but also partly because it wasn’t necessarily the only thing I was interested in, but simply a therapeutic activity that I could do multiple times a day — I was a very hungry kid.

Now, nine years later, I have embraced my love of cooking and if anyone asks me what I do for fun, cooking his high up on the list. Not only do I think being a competent and comfortable cook is cool, I have come to realize it is very cool, and most of all something that no matter what, I find joy in.

Even the simplest recipes lift my spirits. Waking up on a weekend morning and sautéing an onion, some peppers and garlic for an omelet not only calms me down but it makes me happy. After all, everyone knows that eating a delicious steak or a bar of chocolate gives similar reactions to falling in love!

In this day and age, with fast food spreading like wildfire, I think it is so important for young people to find joy and importance in cooking their own meals. Why? Well, after watching an episode of Cooked, a wonderful new Netflix miniseries on the history of human food culture, I got a wonderful explanation.

Someone on the episode said something to the effect of: “If you want chocolate chip cookies, fried chicken, pie, and ice cream, have it! Just make all of it from scratch.”

Let me tell you, there is not enough time in the day for someone to make all of that on their own. So naturally, cooking for yourself from scratch limits the amount of food you can make and eat and will ultimately lead to healthier living.

So, to everyone reading this, I encourage you to listen to the immortal words of food critic Anton Ego (from Ratatouille).

“Not everyone can be a great cook, but a great cook can come from anywhere.”

Let’s get cooking, folks.

David Silverman