I am a man with a slow-cooker.

Published on August 30th, 2017

I am a man with a slow-cooker.

As others ponder what they’d like to eat tonight, I forecast what I’ll want tomorrow. The meal I’ll eat tonight was chosen by a person who’s no longer me. I remember that person, and how he haphazardly threw whatever ingredients sounded good into this pot. I don’t blame him for doing so: mine is a forgiving endeavor, and in a slow cooker this large, there’s always room for mistakes and improvisation. Plus, he’s an experienced chef who’s made exactly the same number of slow cooker meals as I have, so I trust his sensibilities.

There’s only another half an hour left on the timer, and the soup would probably be just as good now. But I wait anyway, enjoying the smells that have since permeated throughout my building. I take care of tasks and check emails while a ceramic pot and a heating coil do all of the hard work. When I was younger, and first coming to know my slow cooker, I used to not wait. Back then, I regarded time as an obstacle and a bully, maliciously keeping me from my food until it was inevitably bested. Now, I consider time to be my sous chef.

While letting time and heating coils prepare my food, sometimes I let muted Tasty videos try to convince me that what I’m doing isn’t cooking. Real cooking, as the videos explain, happens in perfectly-lit, 45-second montages. Real cooking is performed by disembodied hands who never make mistakes or munch on raw ingredients. Real cooking never sets off the smoke alarm. I watch those videos and know that it will be decades before I’m as good a chef as those disembodied hands.

Lucky for me, I have decades to spare. I was schooled in the culinary arts by a grandmother whose soups and stews were a day-long affair. I’ve caused grease fires while trying to rush, and proudly wear hairless spots on my arms as a reminder of those mistakes. I can meditate through 3 hours of making corn tortillas by hand, and consider it time well spent. Having surveyed the shelves of Whole Foods, and experimentally purchased every fruit in Chinatown without an English name, I can confidently say that my favorite ingredient is patience, and I use it liberally inside and outside of cooking.

I’m a slow learner in the lifehack era; a composer of paragraphs in the age of the Tweet. I’m a picky consumer of mountains and cityscapes, preferring those that require a hike or a plane ticket to enjoy over those that disappear in 10 seconds unless you take a screenshot. I’m a New Yorker who studied the busy city’s ebb and flow and chose studied diligence over frenzy.

But if these observations are true; if I’m a tortoise living in the hare’s epoch, I can wait for my turn. More than anything else, I’m patient, and I have some awesome soup to sustain me while I wait.