I know I could satisfy your hunger! We’re talking food here…No gutter-chatter today!

The fridge is full to overflowing with leftovers and small bits of half-used onions and peppers and chicken breasts yada yada yada! These are the raw ingredients that I need to make a fantastic and memorable meal. I used to work with a lady who could take the green fuzzy items from the back corner of her fridge, repurpose, and make an epicurean soup to remember! I think we all need mentors…she was my cooking mentor…

I LOVE it when there are NO recipes and lots of miscellaneous and apparently unrelated ingredients that can be repurposed into something spectacular. There are soups and stews and ethnic delicacies in-waiting, sitting innocently and unaware on the fridge shelves. This is when I’m in my element and at my finest. You should drop by for one of my “FRIDGE FUSION” gourmet dinners.

I’m good at it…I know I am…Despite this, as both Uncle Buck‘s nephew and my kids say (and I’m certain it’s in jest):

Oh NO, he’s cooking the garbage!”

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Cover of "Uncle Buck"

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Making a great meal isn’t something that only originates from freshly purchased ingredients at the local 100-mile market. With a bit of thought and creativity the esoteric scraps and remnants of meals long- but not too long– gone (or past pasta) can be repurposed into new and fresh savoury combinations that sweet talk the  mercurial palate.

And life is like that too!

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My life is filled with the leftovers of the human experience…some leftovers I savour and enjoy over and over…others I’ve left on the shelf of experience and ignored… still others are replayed over and over in my mind just to torture me. Whether you are in your 20’s or 40’s or 60’s, I’m pretty sure the same has happened to you.

Chaucer correctly said, “The Past is Prologue“. Our own beginning can begin at the beginning or closer to the end, who cares? A change in life doesn’t necessarily occur only at menopause, or when kids leave home, or when you get a cancer diagnosis. It happens when you decide to make a change and you don’t have to have a reason.

Now that I’m 50+, I’ve decided that the time to cook up a gourmet life has arrived. The ingredients in my “life fridge” are the same, but it’s time to repurpose and make something notable and momentous. There are scraps of me that need to be resurfaced and repurposed. Let’s look at a couple…

As a teenager, I vowed that I would learn to speak French fluently. Seven years of elementary and high school French took me about 10% of the way there. I must have been stupid because I’m sure my fellow students became totally fluent! One important thing I did learn in Grade 11 French was how to drink uncut liquor from a long plastic Carnival cane on a school trip to the Quebec Winter Carnival. It was a start but only a spartan fraction of what I needed to function in a real world “milieu”- that’s a French word! But then life happened, the narrative changed and the dream was shelved.

I was a budding guitar player in my teenage years who modelled myself after the folk heroes of the era…James Taylor, Bruce Cockburn, Jim Croce, Neil Young. I wanted to play like them, sing like them, and I especially wanted to write songs like them. Didn’t happen.

I was always frustrated with myself that I had never fulfilled the aspirations that were so important to me. I’ve feared coming to the end of my days and not having absorbed another language or written a decent song to live on after me. I want to live without regrets. In the last few years I’ve revived the dreams, and I’m slowly, sometimes glacially, working to make them reality.

Here’s what I’m doing:

  • I altered my language goal slightly to make Spanish my new language to learn more intensely . There are many more potential places I want to visit in the world where Spanish is used, so it just makes sense. How have I made this repurposing real? The hardest part was to just make the decision to pursue the actions needed. Then, I took a 2 month, 1 night a week, local college course in beginner traveller’s Spanish. Next, my wife and I booked a 3.5 month trip to Cusco, Peru where we studied for 4 hours each weekday with mostly younger students (20’s and 30’s) from all over the world. Fantastico, amigo! Next month we’re off to Barcelona for another month of daily language classes.  I still suck at Spanish and there’s still a ton of stuff to learn and absorb, but poco a poco!

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  • A year ago, I bought myself my teenage dream guitar…an acoustic Martin. Just owning this makes me want to play the instrument more. It sounds better too. If I sound better, I want to play more. Practice makes a big difference. I practice more now. I have a gizmo that costs less than $100 that hooks my guitar to a computer so I can record my attempts at songwriting. I’m finding songwriting to be painfully difficult, but it’s pushing to come out…my baby is gestating and will be born someday!

So, what’s next? Tomorrow… and then another tomorrow. I haven’t decided. For now, I’ll focus on the two things I’ve talked about above. One day I’ll wake up and a fresh insight, a new passion, will ignite and I’ll start to repurpose something clean and pristine.

Do you have a piano lesson, a fencing career, a prospective novel in your “life fridge” waiting to be cooked to perfection??

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A life well-cooked doesn’t have to be a blood bath!

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