Perfection is highly overrated.
This may be a foolish flaunting of an unpopular opinion in the face of my ongoing need to be hired to write something, edit something, cook something, teach something, or take others on a tour of something.
But hear me out. Someone somewhere–no doubt an inspirational speaker sweating in front of a large audience–once said, “Don’t strive for perfection. Strive for excellence.” To which I say, “Hear, hear!” “Huzzah!” and “Preach it, brother!” for it affirms that rather than spinning ourselves up into a tizzy in pursuit of what is essentially unattainable, if we just make what we’re doing incredibly good, then everything will be just fine.
I got my first inkling that this might be so while in culinary school when our chef instructor was rolling veal meatballs one day. He admonished us not to bother with one of those unitasking tools that produces meatballs that are all the exact same size and shape. As long as they’re in the ballpark size wise, they’ll all cook in the same amount of time, which is all that really matters, he said. Plus, you want people to know they were special enough for you to hand make meatballs for them. If they’re perfectly uniform they’ll look machine made, and your guests will think they came from a factory and not from you. And they’ll think they were only special enough for the store-bought kind.
So if your homemade pizza is shaped more like an amoeba than a steering wheel, who cares? If you made it, it tastes good, and you had a good time making it, then that’s what really matters. If you want to get a job making pizza, then you can focus on improving your dough shaping skills.
Too often we become intimidated in the face of the idea of perfection. Personally, I’ve seldom made a soufflé that was ready for its close-up, Mr. DeMille. They always taste just fine, but they’re usually lopsided. In fact, my soufflés often look like they’re searching for a lost contact lens on the oven floor. Maybe I can blame it on the tremors I don’t feel but that continue to tilt my stove millimeter by sneaky millimeter, until one day I bake a cake that is three inches tall on one end and two and a half on the other.
But why assign blame? I say it’s time to give the notion of perfection the ol’ heave-ho. Let’s enjoy our food. Let’s enjoy making it and sharing it. And let’s enjoy the people we make it for and share it with.