The late Margaret Thatcher once proclaimed:
To wear your heart on your sleeve isn’t a very good plan; you should wear it inside, where it functions best.
Sadly, I was not aware of this valuable quote until recently and have gone about my life very much expressing myself freely and openly. At times this has worked agreeably for me, but a well respected friend and supporter reminded me recently – “you could never be a poker player, Vanessa – even when you try to hide it, your feelings are written all over your face.” This is of course following an episode on TV where he has no doubt seen every emotion cross my face within the few moments I am shown!
Without a doubt, I do not have a poker face. And, I acknowledge that it would certainly be foolish to show any emotions in a serious card game…….you would be screwed. So poker I do not play!
You can of course practice showing no emotions but when you have lived your life boldly it is rather hard to suddenly transform yourself and create a new and milder personality. You can do it for a little while but when you really need it, and that is usually when you are under pressure …….the cracks will start to show.
MasterChefNZ is pressure. Cooking under pressure and infront of cameras! It is rather like a tough, filmed, game of poker!
There is the pure fun of it – joining in for a bit of a hoot. The wonder of whether you will do Ok or not. It’s an awesome way to begin but it passes by rather rapidly as the competition edges on and you realise the heat has been turned up and the potential of a win is in sight.
This is when the ‘pure fun’ phase moves into the ‘play with a bit of an ego’. Studying in the house, paying attention to the judges and keeping an eye on the competition. Winning a round is a good feeling, because you have managed to come out ahead in a challenge where the competition is hard to beat. Success and personal kudos buoy you along and keep you itching for the next round and another mini celebrity moment.
In the top 7 we are far more knowledgeable about each other. Those who may tell jokes and convey friendliness whilst still determinedly focussing on the game. Those who are working on new tricks and strategy – who have the goal of winning foremost in their mind. Those who are leaping from challenge to challenge, trying to keep short and medium term goals in sight.
And, the cracks are definitely there. Beeps and blurts. Over reactions and irritability. Faces that tell the story of fatique, of sheer concentration. Retorts the product of stress and anguish.
And food! From the simple to the ridiculous. From platters telling stories, to one pot dishes rich with flavour, to the Turduckenqua – a technical challenge – an epic endeavour with top results for the girls. YAY!
But at home, cooking should not be stressful. At home it should be pleasurable – even when it is as a task – to get a family meal on the table. Another ‘mum’ lamented post watching the MasterChefNZ Turdukenqua episode, ‘I can so relate to the competitors when they look frantic and swear, because that’s how I feel every time I am trying to get dinner on the table!’
I realise we are always putting ourselves under too much pressure. I am the same at times – I have said dinner is at 7pm so I hate to run late. Yet the judges are not in the home asking us to step away from our benches!! Dinners should be easier than that. Let your time dictate what you can achieve. There is no point aiming for Master Chef quality when you only have an hour. This is not feasible, nor necessary. Funnily enough, if you change your vision and release the pressure you will probably put a fabulous, simple and delicious meal in front of your very appreciative family!
So whilst you may wish to try a home version of the Turduckenqua – and there is one here on my site for you to try – don’t feel any pressure to do so. And remember if someone pops by to watch – it’s not a competition and you are welcome to wear your heart right there on your sleeve!