This morning, I am thinking about baking and love making.
No, not cooking and sex: Anyone can do that.
Some people — men and women alike — may not enjoy cooking (although most share a general liking of sex). Whenever I’ve met those non-cooking types (and I used to be one of them), their only fault turns out to be quite innocent: They just haven’t been able to discover any pleasure in the kitchen, yet. My own earlier disliking of cooking had something to do with a lack of time and sparsity of ingredients. But once I’ve crossed the threshold into my fuller-fledged womanhood and more comfortable prosperity, I soon discovered: I loved cooking.
“But, of course, I cook!” I tell any man who asks; and I say so proudly while I notice a whole new category of interest sparking up in that man. He wants it. I can tell.
But there isn’t really much art to cooking: All you need is esteem and common sense. (Kind of like in sex.) Esteem is a consequence of experience and skills. The better the esteem — the better cook. The better the lover.
With baking, however: It’s a different ball game. The one thing that a baker absolutely must accept is a very precise list of ingredients and measurements; tools, temperatures, timing. A baker must enjoy following instructions, which much be why none of the men I’ve known liked baking. Sure, I’ve dated many men who cooked. Although I’ve never slept with a professional chef, I’ve shared a bed — often after sharing a meal — with a few men who were very skilled at cooking.
Interestingly, the better skilled cooks, in my personal statistic, somehow turned out to be better equipped lovers. It may be a pure coincidence, of course, but I would imagine that what made them good in bed and in the kitchen was their willingness to improvise.
There are recipes in cooking, but most of us, cooks, use them as a mere source of inspiration. Personally, all I need to know is the flavor profile and the temperature; and then, I take it from there, on my own — thank you very much. And soon enough, I am able to get lost in it: to transcend while most the time thinking of the person for whom that meal is being made. And that is exactly where I get off: Cooking requires a generosity of the soul. Combined with a set of skills, it is meant for the benefit of the other participant. Kind of like sex: GOOD SEX, that is.
And just like in the bedroom, I prefer to establish a certain amount of control in my kitchen. I am an extremely territorial cook: I keep my working space immaculately clean while often setting the mood with the voices of my favorite soulful songbirds and wearing the minimal amount of required clothing. During a meal, however, I prefer to lose that control and to get my hands dirty. And I do prefer for the other person to get turned on by the tastes and the textures of the meal so much, that he unleashes the reins of his vanity — and starts eating with his hands and licking his fingers.
Here, I would dare to compare cooking to foreplay: As any good cook and lover, I bounce between the general recipe for it and, again, improvisation. Which would then make the actual meal — sex itself. When in the midst of it, there is no more room or time for brushing up on the ingredients. Because after all of that preparation, it is time to get down and dirty — and to make a meal of it. Which is why I always prefer the company of very hungry men.
Now, baking, as I’ve mentioned, is a whole different ball game. It’s a ballpark with its own rules. Personally, I prefer an absence of all balls while I juggle in front of my stove. On occasion, I have permitted a man to observe me while I improvise a meal, for his benefit. But as a baker — I do my thing in silence and entirely alone.
I still think of the other person, of course; but the more I like a man — the more complex my baking recipe will be. Because what I want — is to impress him, to titillate him with luxury at the end of a successful meal; to take him over the edge just when he is ready to lean back and relax.
If I ever bake for a man, I have already interviewed him on his favorite sweets. I’ve done my research. I have collected the best of the ingredients which often requires traveling to specialty stores and the purchase of a specific pan from Sur La Table. Sometimes, the process of baking takes several days: I let each part sit, settle, cool down; absorb the ganache. Then, I compile the next layer, and I allow it to serve its time as well; to age a little. And I find that most cakes taste slightly better on the second day after their completion. But then, I always perform the final touches just a few hours before presentation.
And it turns me on to harbor the secret of it while I observe my man consuming a meal and often singing me praises:
“You have NO idea what’s coming at the end of this, do you?” I think to myself — proudly — I notice a whole new level of interest, of adoration that arises in my heart for the very hungry man across my table.
Most bakers will confess that they don’t improvise. It is a game of precision. You must be willing to surrender to the rules and avoid listening to any dictation by your ego.
But the more you grow as baker, the more room you find for improvement. TRUE: That room is very modest. There is nothing you can do to fix a collapsed souffle or to a mousse cake that refuses to set in. There is nothing to do — but to start from scratch. But you can thicken the icing to fix a lopsided cake. Or you can add a caramel to a cheesecake to distract your guest from a less-than-perfect crust.
And so it is in love making — TRULY GREAT LOVE MAKING: You must know what you’re doing. Not only have you interviewed your partner about his tastes and preferences, by now, you have most likely practiced a few times. You’ve learned how to reach your lover’s pleasure. You’ve done: The research! And that very expertise is what separates love making from sex: It takes time and practice. It takes surrender — and maybe just a little room for improvisation.
No matter how good of baker you are, you will most likely always botch up the very first crepe, right? And no matter how great of a lover you are, the very first time with a partner, you’ll end up having sex — NOT making love. But if you’re willing to invest the time, to do the research; to learn and to be patient; to accept the recipes to your lover’s orgasms and to know when and how to throw in the last improvisation — however modest — you will discover this:
What makes a great lover — and a great baker — is leading with your heart.