Thursday, July 21, 2016

Winging It

Doing my homework!
I like to think of it as “doing research,” but I approach almost everything by first Googling it. I don’t remember what I did in the pre-Internet days (probably counted heavily on books, newspapers and magazines), but since the dawn of the world wide web I haven’t made a move without getting background (lots and lots of background) on it. Doctor visit coming up ? I scroll through at least 12 pages of websites until I find the diagnosis I want. Movies, concerts, plays? Don’t plunk down a red cent until I read all the reviews. Without Yelp, I would never make a restaurant reservation. And travel? Tripadvisor was my constant companion as I booked flights and lodging, and checked out museums in Europe on our vacation.

All this is well and good, but I seem to have lost the ability to navigate the world without a goof-proof plan. Maybe it’s a reaction to the chaos of our times, but I feel much more secure when, for example, I read at least a hundred comments on the fit of my possible online dress purchase before I buy. If Mary S (age 45-59, style sleek and classic) complains that an outfit makes her look “middle aged,” that does it right there (never mind the fact that she—and I—actually ARE middle aged.) As my hundred commenters rarely agree, I haven’t bought a dress in ages.

Same goes for cooking. I love to prepare meals for my family and friends. My stack of food-
PJ's delicious entree!
splattered cookbooks attests to my intense interest in the subject. So why am I feeling like a kitchen fraud these days? Blame my sons, daughters, and daughter-in-law. None of them usually rely on recipes before they launch into meal prep. They all saunter around the kitchen like Top Chef finalists, flinging garlic and onions into skillets sizzling with olive oil, making substitutions to beat the band (no spinach? Collard greens! Chicken cutlets instead of fish fillets? Why not? I hesitate to adjust printed instructions by so much as a dash of pepper. Even after 50 years of cooking, I have little confidence in the outcome of any shortcuts or switches I may make. In the fish market the other day, they were sold out of rockfish for my intended “blackened rockfish” entree. PJ was with me, and not only did he suggest red snapper instead, he came up with his own blackening seasoning mix, and took over the sautéing and plating (adding his own touches like honey-lemon dressed greens on top of the fish). Delicious, and truly his creation.

I’ve decided to go Google-free for the rest of the summer (or at least Google-lite), and get used to winging it once in awhile. Trusting my own judgement and abilities for a change. What’s the worst that can happen? An inedible dinner? An unflattering skirt? Nothing fatal. And maybe, by relying on my instincts, they will gradually improve.

So who cares about Rotten Tomatoes ratings? “Ghostbusters” remake, here I come!

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