Good thing I’m not even close.
However, being imperfect doesn’t mean that I’m not deluded into thinking that at some point, I may achieve perfection. I still strive for it. I am a perfectionist. Whether it’s a genetic feature that has been passed down from my ancestors and then mutated into some obscenely flawed version once it hit me, or whether it’s a learned behavior that I developed from being the first-born child to first-generation Asian parents, the fact is that I have never known any other way than to seek perfection. When I was little, perfectionism manifested itself in school. Straight As might as well have been required to be a member of the Delicious family and any other activities were deemed inconsequential unless I was ranked number 1, consistently came in first place, won awards, or was the team leader. It was a lot of pressure to perform for a kindergartener.
When quantifiable numbers like grades and test scores are the measure, perfection may seem like an achievable reality. The problem is that outside of numbers, perfection is a really just an illusion. It is a concept. Not only is the idea of perfection merely a model for something that does not actually exist, but that for which we aim, the value which we assign as “perfect,” is subjective. The characteristics of a “perfect” X are different for each individual; from a collective standpoint then, perfection is a moving target. Because there is no such thing as perfect, we should not worry so much about the actual outcome with some imaginary value and focus only on the quality of the effort we put into achieving that goal – something about the journey being more important than the destination?
Lucky for me, I just don’t operate that way!
My logical right-brain can literally register the idea that perfection is merely a concept, but somewhere, the transmission gets double-agent intercepted, deciphered and recoded into poetry before being delivered to my psychological mind (that reads as “psycho” and “logical” – coincidence? I think not). That twisted message, coupled with current external factors, and tripled with the repetitive pressure to excel that I experienced in my formative school age years has turned the pursuit of some “perfect” X into an ugly, crippling demon that poisons every aspect of my life.
I can’t make decisions for fear that they won’t be the right decision. I can’t complete projects unless I’m assured success. I waste inordinate amounts of valuable time analyzing every possible combination of events that lead to a variety of outcomes. I’m afraid to do anything because I’m afraid it won’t be…perfect. And at the root of it all, I don’t even know what the perfect outcome is because unlike report cards and test scores, most things in life aren’t measured with letters and numbers. It's enough to make me wonder why I even bother doing anything at all.
The most obvious area of my life where perfectionism rears its hideous head is boys, but the complicated state of my love life is an issue to be tackled on another type of blog.
I’m talking about food and cooking. If my homemade tomato soup isn’t going to be perfect, why even bother? I don’t even know what perfect tomato soup is.
Like I said, I am not only deluded into believing that I could potentially achieve The Perfect, but I was seduced by a man, his words and superficial appearance. (Good grief, didn’t I say I wasn’t writing about boys?)
Yes, I admit it. I was seduced by a word in the title of Marcus Wareing’s Cook the Perfect cookbook and the cover shot of his Perfect Roasted Tomato Soup. Though I thought that perhaps the recipe for Nordstrom Café’s tomato soup might have been the one, I couldn’t ignore the light, creamy orange perfection that was staring back at me from the pages of a book called “Perfect.” I read through the recipe with every intention of believing that this would be perfect, but made a few minor changes because really, did you think I wouldn’t do some comparative analysis of tomato soup recipes to determine what additional modifications would actually make it perfect? Of course not.
It wasn’t perfect.
But I had a good time making it.
Marcus Wareing's Perfect Roasted Tomato Soup as Interpreted by Sarah
Heat a roasting pan for 3-4 minutes in a 475 degree preheated oven. Pour ½ c. olive oil (Wareing: ⅔ c.) into the pan and add 1 small white onion, chopped (Wareing: ½), 6 whole garlic cloves (Wareing: 3-4 cloves, sliced), and 2¼ lb fresh ripe tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, stir to coat everything with oil, and roast for 15 minutes. Add 2 Tbsp tomato paste, stir, and roast for 5 more minutes.
Add 1 c. sun-dried tomatoes in oil, 6 sprigs basil (Wareing: 3 springs each basil and cilantro), and roast for another 10 minutes.
Pour the entire contents of the roasting pan into a large bowl, add 2 Tbsp each of Worcestershire sauce and Balsamic vinegar, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit for 30 min. I waited as long as I could, but surrendered to temptation after 20.
Puree the contents in batches until smooth, then pass through a fine sieve into a pot. My friends, I am lazy and did not do this. Let's just say that I prefer things "rustic." Or maybe I am just lazy.
Heat to simmer, add 2 c. chicken stock (I actually had to add a little more than 2 cups because of all those onions) and stir well. Taste and add seasonings (salt, pepper, Worcestershire, Balsamic) to your taste.