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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Culinary Creativity


I have many artistic friends. Musicians. Painters. Photographers. Actors. Art pours from these creative individuals.

And sometimes that make me angry.

Not because they can write epic songs, take pretty pictures, or throw a twelve foot ceramic pot engraved with the Chinese symbol for water. No, I get mad at them because their artistic talents often get generalized as creativity. Their poignant artistic expressions become others’ perception of what it means to create.

We have a world that believes that…

Creativity = Art.

Author Margaret Wheatley’s adds to this narrow definition,

“Life is born from this unquenchable need to be. One of the most interesting definitions of life in modern biology is that something is considered alive if it has the capacity to create. The term for this is autopoiesis - self creation. Life begins from the desire to create something original, to bring a new being into form.”

Modern biology’s definition of life seems to fit my evolving definition of creativity.

Life = Creativity = New Beauty


Almost two years ago my wife and I moved to Seattle. Perhaps the most challenging part of our move was leaving my previous environment for creating. I created music, programmed services, designed marketing materials, shot video shorts, and worked on scripts. Moving to Seattle has forced me to live into my definition of creativity. No longer could I rely on my “artistic” outlets. Thus creativity made its way into everyday life. I was forced to be creative with my finances, come up with new ways of loving my wife, think through new contexts for community, and work on the skill of question asking.

But perhaps my most frequent creative outlet since moving to Seattle is cooking. That’s right my friends…I said cooking. I am not talking about pasta and chicken. I am not talking about grilled cheese and soup. I’m not even talking about Trader Joes’s ricotta stuffed chicken breast (although pre-made TJ entrées remain highly recommended). I’m talking about cooking. With spices and things.

Since coming to Seattle I have attempted many cuisines. Not all are great, but all are edible. Here is just a small selection of the top rated entrees served at La Shappell’s Café Steakhouse Cantina. Notice the number of chicken breast dishes. You have to be creative with chicken or it gets a little boring.

• Gorgonzola Topped Beef Tenderloin
• Fontina, Basil, and Prosciutto Stuffed Chicken Breast
• Blue Cheese Buffalo Chicken Breast
• Brie and Apple Turkey Burgers
• Brazilian Chicken with a Black Bean Smash
• Juanita’s Fajita Salad (named after Michael Jordan’s non-hispanic ex-wife)
• Ginger Chicken with Grilled Nectarines


So you can’t paint, draw, dance, or play the drums. So you got a D in ceramics, think Photoshop is that little booth inside Walgreens, and you haven’t read a poem since Doctor Seuss. So you aren’t artistic. If you are alive…you have the desire to create something. You are creative. With each breath comes a new opportunity to create beauty. In your context. In your life. In your unique way.

Life = Creativity = New Beauty

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