When ever I make mash potatoes, it never turns out to be perfect. There’s usually lumps, sometimes it’s a little too dry or wet. When I make macaroni it doesn’t always turn out the same either, some times it’s good, sometimes it’s great. You could say this about every thing I make. You might even relate to this game of kitchen hit-and-miss yourself. Cooking at home, and for a family can be hard work. You don’t always have what you need, sometimes you have to improvise and sometimes things just don’t go as planned.
But it is this culinary imperfection that, to me, encapsulates the joy of home cooking. Ask any chef in the world what his or her favourite meal is and they will most likely answer with a dish their mother used to make. Home cooking has a special ingredient that you won’t find in restaurants and other controlled catering environments. It has the element of the imperfect and the unpredictable. But I think it is exactly this element that makes home food so desirable and comforting.
The Japanese have a word, wabi-sabi. It is a concept that means there is beauty in imperfection and transience. They have whole artistic and literary movements dedicated to this aesthetic. The image above is an example of a wabi-sabi bowl. It’s flaws are what makes it beautiful. Wikipedia lists the characteristics of wabi-sabi as simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.
All of those things are what make home cooking wonderful and impossible to imitate. It is because home cooks are limited by budgets, skill and time that their meals are imperfect. It is the imperfections that we love. It is the natural and human inconsistencies that we seek and become synonymous with comfort and peace.