I've been cooking since I was probably 11 or 12. One of my first cooking memories is of the ubiquitous Easy Bake Oven and making bad soufflés to friends and family out of our apartment in Tokyo. If you haven't had the pleasure of using the easy bake oven let me explain it to ya. For one thing, its designed for 6 year old girls and very much not for carb hyped attention deprived 12 year old boys. Its essentially a giant lightbulb in a plastic container that heats up these little pans of sugar and flour into something vaguely resembling food but upon closer inspection is more akin to armor plating. Little Debbies - and very few little Tom's unless those Tom's have abnormally high pitched voices - spend countless hours pretending they're great pastry chef's in Paris, concocting some sweet treats to appropriately adoring parents who "ooh" and "ahh" at their precious children.
Well I was 12, so ya know, I didn't have that adoration. In essence I failed miserably at it. See I'm a gadget guy, I like things that do stuff. Give me gismos, knobs, dials, and I'm a happy man. If I can pretend I'm the helmsman on the Starship Enterprise then it's perfect... that's the level of sophistication I want. I want to be able to yell out in the middle of cooking creme brule "DAMNIT MR. SCOTT! Give me more POWER!!!!!" or "reroute power from the environmental controls to the phasers now!" See I'm looking for the interaction of the cooking process. Of turning cooking into a story with a plot. Beginning, middle, and end with a fair dose of heroism mixed into it. I want to swoop in at the last second and save my soufflé from sudden disaster at the hand of the Klingons and their evil cooling bird of prey's as they seek to arrest the rise of my bread. Screw automation, I prefer the seat of my pants as guide and judge rather than the vagrancies of some clock.
So I hated this thing. I loathed and despised it. It was too easy and more likely than not completely ruined my souffle. How I used to wonder, was something meant to make the whole cooking process easier making it so much harder for me? Why can't I cook a soufle? I mean it says its soooo easy right there on the box... I was depressed, saddened by all this. And now thinking back upon it, in all likelihood my parents had bought this damn contraption for my younger sister. How was it that it works for her but not me? Am I that much of a failure in the kitchen? I wanted to strip this little plastic box down and rebuild it. Maybe I could give it a little something to make it work for me like a timer and temperature control. Ooooh... how about a current control valve so I could control the heat inside the box, maybe make it so I could cook at a lower temperature for longer and thus keep the souffle in its rising activation state longer to reach its full potential. Ahhh.... and maybe give it a fighter bay at the same time for my little lego airplanes so they would attack my siblings and get them off my back when I play on the computer. I mean, that's what that big space in the middle of it is for right?
Well I never did give the thing a fighter bay. I'd get distracted, full of failure I'd retreat to catching turtles from the pond or read another Hardy Boys novel or something. So many things to keep me occupied, so many things to prevent the completion of this or that project of mine. But that germ of cooking was born.