When I was a little girl my great aunt, whom I had never met, had died. My father was very upset about it and when I asked how she died, he stated that my great aunt had died from old age. It was then I decided that people died when they were old. But how old is old? My answer changed many times over the years. When I was ten, old was when you were old enough to drove. When I grew into a teenager and began to drive, I was quick to point out that old was when you married and had children. And now that I am married with teenagers myself, I noticed that I stopped defining what is old. Rather isn’t age just a number, right?
Our culture is preoccupied with youth. Commercial drive age defining creams and makeup. Our television programs are written for a teenager and twenty-something people. Even the actors glow under the bright lights while bathing in their baby fat and pre-pregnancy figures. They are in love, young and full of life. It is no wonder when a person ages usually after the birth of their second child they begin to fade away, like lovers on a moonlight night.
So again I ask, how old is old? Can it be defined by a number. In my cooking class I am not sure it does matter. The division of physical age is apparent. Youthful teenagers converging with experienced older persons. Over time, two groups clearly emerged and come together like vinegar and water. But the dividing factor isn’t age, rather it is an attitude and willingness to work versus the willingness to watch as others work. In this classroom, age is just a number it is the definition of the human spirit that comes across to the Chef. He knows who is dedicated to the craft of food and who isn’t.
Age is apparent in a kitchen but rather immaterial. A kitchen is about teamwork. And only those who are dedicated to the each other, will survive. Gordon Ramsey has painted a true portrait of the kitchen. Only the strong survive. And it isn’t always the youngest person either. In the kitchen, age is defined by the human spirit and even youthfulness can not save a lazy person.
Again I ask how old is old? As I continue through school, I am reminded of the petty value placed on age and I too grapple with the very fact that I am at mercy to that imaginary number that defines my worthiness. It is a sad fact and there is no way to run from it, the clock waits for no one. But this being said, food is defined by its spices not its age.