Is it noshworthy?

Schrödinger’s Fudge

December 5th, 2009

During one of my trips to the United Kingdom, I was driving through the countryside listening to the BBC.

On the radio they were interviewing Maggie Smith, an amazing actress that many would know as Minerva McGonagall the head of Gryffindor House in the Harry Potter movies.

In the 1960’s, she was performing at the National Theatre with Laurence Olivier. One night, Olivier was on stage doing the performance of his life. The audience sat mesmerized at this once in a lifetime performance.

It wasn’t lost on the other actors either. Even the ones who weren’t on stage watched from the wings, knowing that they were watching an iconic performance that actors and audience members would be talking about for decades to come.

As the play came to an end, the audience rose to its feet, the supporting cast cheered, and Laurence Olivier stormed off to his dressing room.

Maggie Smith, Derek Jacobi and Anthony Hopkins were among the young actors who rushed to the Olivier’s dressing room, where they found him trashing it. As he broke everything in sight, his friends implored him, “Larry! That was the greatest performance in the history of theatre. Why are you so upset?”

He turned to them and said, “I know. And… I… don’t… know… how… I… did… it!!!!!”

This is the exact feeling many of us experience when cooking. Cooking often defies predictability.

You may have heard of Schrödinger’s cat. It’s a thought experiment used to explain quantum mechanics to novices like me.

The premise is that you put a cat in a sealed box with a vial of poison. Not being able to see inside the box, you never know if the cat is alive or dead. By definition, the cat is both alive and dead, since you can’t tell until you open the box.

You can’t know how it’s going to turn out.

In the last week I’ve made several batches of chocolate chip cookies (I hope you all appreciate the sacrifices I make for you!!!!) The first batch was delicious but overcooked, saved by the miracle that is the silicone baking mat. A later batch was yummier, but still a little dark.

Last night’s batch was perfectly cooked, quite delicious, but very, very thin.

You’d think that by following the same directions each time, using the same ingredients each time, that they’d come out exactly the same. But nooooo…

At Thanksgiving, my room mate Tim’s dad sent home the most incredible fudge every conceived by humanity. It was soft, light, almost fluffy, and it defined chocolaty goodness. I must make this fudge myself!!!!

I asked Tim to get his dad’s fudge recipe so that I could recreate the chocolaty goodness. What I got was chocolaty, but it wasn’t the “Proof that God exists and he loves us” that Mr. Jones’ fudge was.

“I… don’t… know… how… he… did… it!!!!!”

Even when you get really good at it, you’ll never quite know how to make that one batch that’s extraordinary. You just have to keep doing it until you experience it again.

And isn’t that what makes it fun?

2 Responses to “Schrödinger’s Fudge”

  1. steph Says:

    Oh, and what an odious chore it is to have to “dispose” of the evidence of a failed batch!

  2. Peter Kevin Reeves Says:

    The sacrifices I make for my readers. 🙂

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