While waiting with unreasonable anticipation for Fuller House to hit our streaming channels, the Urban Farmer and I have nestled into Mozart in the Jungle. It’s over-the-top in its portrayal of a free spirit, the “chemistry” feels forced, and if I hear Lola Kirke giggle impishly one more time, I might be forced to call it quits on this binge effort. Yet somehow watching Gael García Bernal with hippy hair is enough to merit the lost winter hours, and critiques aside, the show did leave me with one golden nugget.
The prodigy conductor, Rodrigo (Bernal) encourages the symphony director (Bernadette Peters) to sing publicly. After she dismisses her vocal talents as “amateur,” he admonishes, “You say that as if it was a dirty word or something, but ‘amateur’ comes from the Latin word amare, which means love- to do things for the love of it.” In a show about an orchestra, this, my friends, provided the most music to my ears!
Most of my early to mid-twenties were filled with a crippling doubt as I tried to pinpoint my passion, my purpose, my place on this massive spinning globe, etc- that typical cocktail of honor roll meets intense university collides with real world. I felt an immense pressure to find and stick to something with the devoutness of a nun. As the rocks gradually diluted that stress cocktail, I began to embrace this fact about myself- I don’t want to be an expert.
I don’t want to be an expert. I don’t have one single passion. I do not seek precision. I want to bake, but I don’t want to understand every single chemical reaction and perfect every process. I don’t want to repeat recipes. I want to be a photographer, but I don’t want to invest in lighting and elaborate setups. I want to draw and silkscreen and play with flowers, and restoring the passion within the word “amateur” frees so much pressure from these activities.
So be an amateur cook and make horrible mistakes. Buy a camera, take pictures, take ugly pictures and keep taking pictures! Be an amateur baker, and share your layers of cake with those around you. Some of the best recipes come from amateurs- the grandmothers, mothers and dads who vaguely followed instructions, heaped spoonfuls, threw ingredients together and made it work because their hearts were in it.
Fittingly, this recipe was adapted from my new favorite read, Sift Magazine, which I can’t stop raving about (no, they are not sponsoring my fanaticism- I wish!). Its beautiful pages are all about celebrating the love of baking, in other words, they celebrate the amateurs!
p.s: If juggling multiple passions and curiosities rings a bell, I recommend this TED Talk for more inspiration- “Why Some of Us Don’t Have One True Calling”
Whole Wheat Chocolate Layer Cake with Chestnut Filling & Dark Chocolate Ganache
Recipe adapted from Sift Magazine (Holiday 2015)/King Arthur Flour
About This Recipe: You’ll need a large sheet pan (18”x13”) to bake this spongey, chocolate cake, which is then simply cut into fourths and stacked with layers of delicious chestnut cream as a filler. I found chestnut cream at Whole Foods, as well as my local grocery chain, but if you can’t find it, you can substitute Nutella for the filling.