"Cooking something delicious is really much more satisfactory than painting pictures or throwing pots. At least for most of us. Food has the tact to disappear, leaving room and opportunity for masterpieces to come." Jane Grigson - Good Things
Here is the corner of my pantry dedicated to storing my home-made jars of jam and marmalade. And let me say they include a few gifts from friends as well. I have just finished making the annual marmalade - four batches which cover the back corner and along the back shelf until the browner looking jar, second from the left. David reckons there are around forty of them and they will last a good three years and so I won't have to do it next year. Well I'll believe that when it happens. One has already been given away.
But I have to say when I look at this little collection I am indeed filled with an immense feeling of satisfaction - even if the batch made with brown sugar had difficulty setting and apparently doesn't taste as good as the others. An experiment not to be repeated perhaps. But very eatable all the same. Just not as good as the others.
Perhaps preserving food is not such a good example of Jane Grigson's wonderfully reassuring quote at the top of the page. After all preserves hang around for some time. They don't go off you see. Well they do eventually but marmalade and jam, we have found over the years, lasts for at least a couple of years. We are still here to prove it. But completing a somewhat daunting task like the marmalade was indeed very satisfying. Not least because it's over, and I don't have to do it again for some time.
I cannot paint or draw. My art teacher was very keen to make sure that I wasn't contemplating taking the GCE ordinary level art exam and instead assigned me various monitoring tasks, like handing out paper and washing brushes. Well, possibly I exaggerate. Anyway I could not draw and so participation in art just gives me an immense sense of failure. Ditto for music, acting - couldn't remember the lines - sport ... Even the domestic science of embroidery and sewing were not hugely satisfying for me. I could never do minute enough stitches for embroidery, and I was never satisfied with any of the dresses I made over the years. Maybe I set my standards too high there. But I do appreciate all of those arts and enjoy their presence in my life very much.
I suppose I now get quite a lot of satisfaction from photography. After all it's so easy these days is it not? It doesn't have to be perfect when you take the picture these days. You don't have to get it right first time because you haven't got enough money to either buy more film or develop it. Anyone can crop and edit photos on the computer to make most pictures look at least acceptable. And they can be thrown away - like food. No photos today though. Apologies - nothing caught my eye - other than the marmalade.
So cooking is, I guess, my most creative outlet. For I do think that virtually everyone has a need to be creative, or at least think they are being creative, in some way. And cooking a delicious meal for those you love is a highly satisfying way of doing it. And you do it every day, so every day there is satisfaction at the end of it. And, as Jane Grigson says, if you get it wrong - like the pea soup the other day, then it doesn't have to be repeated, and it can even be thrown away. Which to be fair to all those other arts, can be done too. Paintings can be thrown away. Even painted over. I remember on one of those Fake or Fortune programs they found a painting underneath the one they were assessing, which, from memory was at least as good, if not better than the one they were assessing.
Maybe gardening is similar to cooking, though it seems to me one's failures there are rather more obvious. A dying plant certainly makes me very depressed rather than satisfies, but then again, if you do actually manage to grow something you can eat, that is also extremely satisfying.
I suppose this blog is a creative outlet, but I am rarely satisfied with it. Which might be a good thing, and whilst each post, once written is there, for as long as I keep up my Wix subscription, or as long as Wix exists, in actuality, a piece once written and once read by the few, is gone. I doubt anyone is going to dig into the archives and they certainly won't pop up in people's random searches.
Satisfaction is a little thing really - well to me anyway, so I was a little bit taken aback when looking for quotes about satisfaction to find that the majority of them (not the ones about customer satisfaction), were very superior about satisfaction being almost a tawdry thing . Best summed up by this one from George Bernard Shaw:
"As long as I have a want, I have a reason for living. Satisfaction is death."
Or - slightly differently:
“He who is not satisfied with a little is satisfied with nothing.” ― Epicurus
Every time I cook a meal that gives pleasure to both myself and whoever else it was for, I am satisfied. Particularly if, as well as being delicious, it is also nutritious and healthy. It's a little challenge that we all face every day. What's for dinner? And if we rise to that challenge with a surprise, a favourite, a comfort, then that's satisfying.
Ditto for having a shelf full of marmalade and no need to go through that process again for a long time.