Halloween is the one day a year that we revel in ghouls and goblins, witches and warlocks, and all manner of frightful things. Not only do we revel in them, we invite them to our homes with the promise of treats. We invoke the names of Bloody Mary and Black Aggie and we watch through finger shielded eyes as Jason and Freddie pick off helpless teenagers who go outside. Alone. At night. When there’s a killer on the loose. The other 364 days, we hide from our fears.
The things that scared me used to be easier to banish. Like the creepy corner in our basement where the oil tank lived. Walking down the basement steps, it was the first thing I would see. Cloaked in black, the outline of the oil tank would shift and morph into something menacing just waiting for its chance to grab me as I scurried by. I used to have nightmares about this. It went like this – I was sent down to the basement to get something from the refrigerator. While standing at the refrigerator, I hear ‘the sound’ coming from the corner. When I turn to look, I see Dracula coming towards me from the corner. I open my mouth to scream and the only noise I can make is a hoarse whisper. Over and over, I try to scream but no one hears me. Fortunately the dream always ended before Dracula actually got me and eventually, I stopped having the dream. But I always dreaded having to go down in the basement even though I knew there was no monster living in the corner. My mind knew it, but my fear would not be denied.
Monsters under the bed, in the closet, or in the corner, those are the fears that we grow out of. But the ones we inherit as adults, those can be more menacing than any vampire, werewolf, or goblin. They aren’t banished by a night light. They follow us in our waking hours, dreaded bounty hunters of our fear whose name we dare not speak. Until now.
I’m going to own up to my fears and try to conquer them. I figure I should start small and work towards an achievable goal. Then, as I become more confident, I can tackle the bigger ones. Here goes – I am afraid of yeast. Like a wild animal, it smells my fear whenever I so much as think about it. So like the elephant in the corner, I go out of my way not to notice it. I purposely ignore recipes that call for even a speck of yeast. This is no way to live.
I’m limiting myself from experiencing an entire category, genre, what’s the right word? of food just because I’m afraid. So what if my bread dough doesn’t get a good rise? It happens. It doesn’t make me a bad person. And it doesn’t make me a failure. On the contrary, it makes me an adventurer, a risk taker. Deep down, don’t we all want to think that’s who we are?
Oh, I’m also scared to death of the broiler. But I’m going to tackle yeast first. That broiler monster can just stay hidden behind the pots that I store in the oven to keep it from sneaking out when I’m not looking.
Those are my kitchen fears. What are yours and how have you faced them?