Finding a common thread with Neil Armstrong

Mise en place for a stir-fry served at Sacandaga Bible Conference this summer. Cooking it was more rewarding than eating it.

I was consumed today with reading newspapers’ obituaries of Neil Armstrong, who died Saturday at age 82. Though I’m not a space geek, I have watched the “From the Earth to the Moon” series about a dozen times, and never get tired of watching the account of The Eagle’s landing, having missed the event by about six years. (Side note: Thirty-one years later, to the minute, my daughter was born).

Something struck me in his Washington Post obit. From the reams of material available, the mined this quote, which was Armstrong’s way of saying the flight was more rewarding than the walk on the moon:

“Pilots take no particular joy in walking. Pilots like flying.”

Though perhaps I’m alone, that’s my story in the world of food service.

I love cooking it. Not eating it.

In almost three years — most of them part-time — in my food-service role, having prepared probably 70,000 plates, there has been little satisfaction in sitting down to eat the meal that lies at the end of the finish line. I don’t particularly enjoy eating my food and rarely join my staff or family after we feed guests. By that point, I’ve already tried the components and, presumably, am at least satisfied. And then, while you eat, I’m ready to move on to something else.

But I do love the ride. The selection of ingredients, the science behind the cooking, the battle with the clocks and flames for three deadlines a day.  Even the problems — when the pilot light conks out, when the freezer door gets left open, when the pot boils over, when allergies get overwhelming — are rewarding when defeated.

You eat. Enjoy. I’ll just fly.


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