Engineer in the kitchen

By | 2006-06-18

Engineer in the kitchen My father usually says “an engineer is a person who solves problems with ingenious ideas”. Both words, engineer and ingenious, have the same latin root: ingenium. Both persons, him and I, are engineers. So I must agree with him!

Last Saturday I was in the “Spanish Women’s Go Championships”. Obviously I didn’t play. But I was called to be the official chef of the event. I created a menu for six persons, and the same morning we went to the supermarket to buy the food, but unfortunatelly I didn’t find all of what I needed (I wanted to cook macaroni with pesto). So I had to invent an alternative… finally the menu was: (1st) macaroni with spicy tomato sauce; (2nd) brochettes with chicken, red pepper and small (cherry) tomatoes; (3rd) fruit salad with bananas and oranges. It tasted good, specially the brochettes, and they congratulated me for the lunch. They enjoyed my creations. Someone said “luckily you came to cook for us!” (because the organizer doesn’t cook). I enjoy cooking… it’s like creating something from nothing, as when I’m programming. To build ideas.

It reminds me of the (probably) best day I’ve had as an engineer. I was in a train, heading towards Barcelona. In front of me, on the opposite side of the table, a small girl was sitting. She was maybe 7 or 8 years old. She was travelling with her young parents. A man from the train company gave us one earphones box per person, and I folded it. Suddenly the child gave me her small box and I joint with mine, using the boxes’ lips. She was surprised and smiled. So I started to use these 2 boxes to build different things, without saying anything. And every figure I made was a surprise for the girl. Later I got 4 boxes and started to build more complicated things. It was incredible, because there are a lot of different things you can build with only some small boxes (it’s like maths, where you start with the addition and create more complicated operations like exponentiation). We spent two hours playing! She told me “build a dog!” and I made it, without opening my mouth. Her parents were so amused and surprised! Finally the man started to speak with me and he said: “you are an engineer, aren’t you?”. I felt proud 🙂