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My Art of Manliness
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I live in a country (the USA), of alternative lifestyles. I live in a country (the USA), full of flaming feminists and emasculated males. I’m not going to comment or condemn what may or may not, ‘trip your trigger’. But I did read recently that many young men don’t see marriage as a worthwhile pursuit anymore. Not only is this sad, but it does not speak highly of continuing our species, in the not so distant future. It is not only lacking the building of lifetime relationships and the marriage-drought, which troubles me, but also the decline of the birthrate. This is all I have to say about these things.
I am a man. I am glad that I am. What else could I be? It is what I was born as. I do not know how to be anything else. I might as well celebrate. I am also keenly, kindly and gratefully aware of women. I celebrate our differences and I am grateful, for women too!
I may not be anyone’s best man or the best man who I can be, but I sure do love the pursuit of what I call, the art of manliness, my own manliness.
In my 65 years, I have been some places, seen some things, met some people and learned some things. To each their own and in their own time, but along my way, I learned to cook and to love it, for many reasons. The learning came first before the love. An old world German Chef taught me.
As I learned and my Chef became confident in me and trusted me, those same things, I was able to transfer to myself, confidence and trust.
Chef tasked me with designing, preparing and readying the blue-plate specials, for serving to our customers each day. This taught me to save on food costs, by limiting waste. It taught me how to use what you have on hand. It appealed to my artistic sense to make something visually appealing, fragrant, full of the sounds of something to sizzle, textures and touch and how to make something tasty, basically out of nothing. I think I became pretty good at this because, we always sold out.
Presentation and garnish appealed to my inner romantic self. I soon learned that the ladies in, around, near or of my life, liked men that could cook (especially well). They seemed to value this above any good looks I may have lacked, intelligence deficiency, physical prowess that had perhaps passed me by and my thin bank account and little monetary success. And these ladies seemed to appreciate a beautiful plate of food as they did flowers. So, that became the beginning for me, in my pursuit of the art of my manliness.
I was not too much interested in participating in or observing sports. But in a crowded noisy world of push-and-pull, I have and still enjoy being outside in nature, breathing observing, listening to my own thought, walking and taking my adventures, by my own two feet, for transportation. It is another part, of my art of manliness.
Years after learning to cook, I overcame my fear of grilling. Overcoming any fear, is part of my art of manliness. And I learned, the Thrill of the Grill (barbecue grill).
Along my way, I met and married the love of my life, my soul mate and wife Susan. I started making new mixed drinks, for our happy-together hour. I call these happy hours, ‘Sips with Susan.’ It brings out the best in both of us I think? Or, I like to believe it does! As drinks are poured, the romantic game of conversation ensues. What is in it? How were they made? What do they taste like? How do they make you feel? What did you learn and experience today? What do you think about this and that? It is part of my art of manliness.
To Susan or to anyone, where the situation may be reversed, this all then, is part of the art, of womanliness.
Then I was Woke with the Smoke and this became part, of my art of manliness, learning to use a smoker.
And now currently, I am learning part of my art of manliness, by way of, what I refer to as, Toast of the Roast. I have embarked upon a new adventure of roasting my own coffee at home (outside of course), with an old-fashioned hand crank popcorn popper, on the side-burner of our barbecue grill.
I have for years now, appreciated the freshness from grinding whole beans, from a master roaster and that no two type of beans or those that roast them or the manner in which they are roasted are the same. You like what you like and I like what I like, but until I learned how to roast coffee myself, my taste buds were subject to ONLY an occasional, happy roast. This was when the roasters knew what they were doing. Otherwise, I had to consume old stale coffee, mostly all over-roasted, or burnt, and just bad coffee that often upset my stomach. And this is saying a lot because, I drink pots of coffee per day, compared to others which might only have a 1 to few cups per day. This has been my way, for years, almost 24/7 (twenty-four hours a day; seven days a week), and 365 days a year, year after year. But there are some coffee roasters who over-roast and their blends and roasts, literally upset my stomach. And not just mine, but Susan’s too.
To think that I could roast coffee inexpensively, simply, to my satisfaction, fresh, whenever I wanted to and with not much effort and enjoy the whole process was beyond my imagination. Until, that is, until I seized the day (Carpe diem), and did it (and now, having done it for several months now. several times)! Learning to enjoy the subtle nuances of many different single origins appeals to my desire for variety. And even though I have a favorite, my taste buds could get bored and by trying different kinds then returning to my most beloved, my buds’ blast off into hyper drive and explode. It is now, a new part, of my art of manliness.
I can imagine being outdoors and taking a walk in the woods or maybe camping. Start a fire; put some green beans in a skillet and stir with some branch or stick found and roast to my desired done-ness. Cool the skillet and beans by placing just the bottom of the pan in a little mountain stream. Keep stirring and blow off the chaff. Voilà, fresh roasted coffee, probably just like people and soldiers did 100’s of years ago! Grind and brew in a percolator over your campfire. It does not get much cheaper, fresher, better and funner’ (much more fun), than this, in my art of manliness.
Just add a stick to stir and a campfire and roast away!
In my years, I have fed 100’s if not thousands of people (often many at the same meal), delicious and beautiful, full-course meals. There have been no complaints that I am aware of. Now unless you think I am bragging, I should explain – Not to Impress, But to Bless.
When I learned to cook all those years ago, part of my manliness was to see that preparing and presenting food comes by drawing upon all the five senses. Besides the final enjoyment of tasting the food, all the senses must be involved in anticipation experience and recall. All of this actually aids in digestion and promotes conversation, good conversation among people, all kinds of different people, men and women. And my “Not to Impress, But to Bless” motto was because, part of my art of manliness, was to serve others.
The evolution of my art of manliness began with food and presentation to serve and appeal to all the senses. I call this, “The Gathering Place.” It evolved to “Thrill of the Grill.” Then becoming, “Woke with the Smoke.” Then, “Sips with Susan.” Now, it has come full circle with, “Toast of the Roast.”
For many people, there is no better end to a satisfying full-course feast, the frivolity of adult libations in moderation, and good conversation, than a nice fresh roasted, fresh ground and fresh brewed cup of coffee while you slowly sip the memories! Ahh, but this is part, of my art of manliness.
I have prepared with expensive and professional equipment and in several large commercial kitchens. I call myself a chef, but have no piece of paper from any culinary institute. It is not necessary, none of these things are! Remember when my Chef made me responsible for the Blue-Plate special? Part of my art of manliness that served me well in the beginning, serves me well today. I believe anyone can do what I have done and do! Anyone can learn to become what I often call myself, a refrigerator parts cook or chef, turning what you have on hand_ the ordinary, into something extraordinary! And to me, well, it is a part, of my art of manliness.
The sights, the colors, and the smoke. The sounds and sizzle, the fragrances, textures, the presentation, plating and cupping of nature outside or inside, cuz’ there’s no place like home. Cheap or expensive, quick or after much time, these are all parts, of my art of manliness!
Celebrate each moment of life with sense and all the senses, whenever possible. Celebrate with a few or many or alone. Overcome fear. Whatever you do, do it with all your heart and all your might to bless and not to impress. Whether long or hard, short or easy, cheap or expensive it’s all simple, simply to build good conversation and memories worth the living and the recall. The strongest man I have ever known, was the kindest man I’ve ever seen. These I try daily to paint, my art of manliness.
Note: This post, modified, first appeared on another of my blogs, ‘Dahni “Just-I-Magine’ see:
Next Time: a series on: ‘Toast the Roast’- Some History of Coffee