Friday, December 24, 2010

First lesson

Whenever you embark on a new path, and this is especially true in the kitchen, you have to deal with a learning curve. You can read loads of material, watch innumerable videos and instructional, but in the end, you will need to put things into practice. That is when you will face your inner demon: you need to deal with failure.

It is a pretty obvious thing when you get right down to it; you try something and you run the right of not succeeding. Nobody wants to face that demon, we all want to believe that not us, we'll get it right the first time, because we're awesome like that. But in reality, we run a good risk of failure, no matter how closely we follow the recipes.

Cooking is not science; yes, there is such thing as molecular cuisine, but seriously, its a gimmick, its an obsession about the presentation and the experience; its showmanship more than craftsmanship. Cooking is an art (in French, its referred to as les arts culinaire), where you master a set of techniques, then you apply them to your medium.

Just like in painting, or illustration, your first few sketches can very likely turn out to be messed up squiggles on the plate, something vaguely reminding you of your intent, but with none of the intended result. Accept it. Don't dwell, don't panic, don't freak out. Learn from it. Figure out how you went wrong. Is it overcooked? Undercooked? Did you mess up the proportions? Did you forget a key component? Did you try to improvise using whatever was in the pantry and ended up with something that would look and taste more like the aftereffects of a Saturday night drinking binge?

It happens. When you're tight on cash, its very tempting to just save it, try to eat it, just not waste it. But the lesson is, know when to admit failure and throw away the results. Its tough, believe you me, I've been there. Its tough to throw away that pot of veggies and pasta when your paycheck isn't due for a week and you're short of cash. But, really, can you eat that shit? If your honest answer is no, then just toss it in the garbage and move on.

Necessity can sometimes cause us to try out things we were avoiding because we had the choice, but when you're up against the wall and hunger strikes, you learn that ramens ain't all that bad, especially when you still have bits and pieces of stuff lying about that could kick things up a notch...

Ramens? Really?

Stay tuned...

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