Cooking is like making music: It's a temporal art form, in that every performance can only ever exist that one time you experience it. In a way, this is a depressing thought. We will never taste a meal made a hundred, a thousand years ago. All we have are firsthand accounts and our own best approximations of what that meal should have tasted like, based on ancient crumbling recipes and served with steroid enhanced meat and genetically engineered crops. We can never taste that first performance of the sandwich, or stew, or seared scallop.
On the other hand, this is part of what makes food truly special: Every time you sit down to a meal, you are experiencing the only exact version of that meal that will ever exist. I believe that this property can be how the enjoyment of great food is such a unifying experience for everyone. The knowledge that, together, you are experiencing something that never existed before and will never exist again can make anyone smile at least a little.
The other day, I made pork ribs on a charcoal grill. They weren't perfect; it was my first attempt at making ribs over coal. Certainly I should have left them on a bit longer to render the fat some more, and I probably should have included brown sugar in the spice rub. Nevertheless, I thought they were well smoked, tasty, and beautiful. I made R take a profile shot of them, just because it was the first time I had ever seen a pink ring on something I made.
That first time you make something, when you're still focused on all the things you managed to do successfully rather than what you need to improve on, is an impossible feeling to capture or describe. Now, I could probably go out right now and cook a rack twice as tasty and pretty, but no matter what I do they will never be last Sunday's ribs. -J