"I started the stew but I need you to finish it."
How many times have I heard that?
"I skinned the mastedon and put it over a half-lit charcoal briquette, but I need you to finish it."
"Hey, I put all these raw vegetables and other stuff I don't remember in the pot and added water or milk or tomato juice, but I need you to finish it."
And that, I believe, is the difference between heating something up and cooking. Finishing it up. Yep, indeed, adding the spices, watching the water, adjusting the seasoning along the way, careful, patient attention.
Heating it up is like 2 minutes on High and "Dinner!" Cooking is a roux that you stir for 40 minutes. Cooking is a roast you baste every 20 minutes for 3 hours. Cooking is hand chopping the basil, hand smashing the garlic and climbing the Karalammapallamalla Mountain in Nepal for that perfect pepper corn. That's cooking.
People from every continent ask me for my secret to stew. Why, just the other day, Dubya and L were in town and L said that George wasn't too impressed with her stew making and I asked her one question: "Time, Laura, how much time?" She shuffled her feet and looked at her shoes for a few seconds. I thought I saw a tear course down her cheek. Then she looked up and wimpered, I dunno, 45 minutes?
We hugged and I whispered in her ear, 2 hours, Laura sweetie, 2 hours. She went away, hopeful.
Who knows, I could have saved the free world.