Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Why learn to cook?

A redditor explained it perfectly:

"I remember reading a story about a guy who had gotten divorced in his early 30s and in his funk, his family decided it would be a good thing for him to spend a week visiting his aunt and uncle in a different state ... He was moping and feeling sorry for himself, but on the first morning there, his uncle woke him up early for breakfast. But breakfast was not made yet. So, he watched and talked to his uncle while his uncle cooked breakfast.

His uncle made cheese scrambled eggs with hash browns and onions, a side of room temperature salsa, bacon, melon and buttered wheat toast with local honey. He also had a small glass of freshly squeezed orange juice and a cup of brewed coffee. When he gave his nephew the food, everything was cooked to perfection. Everything that was supposed to be hot was still hot. The nephew dug in and loved every bite, but at some point made some comment about his uncle not having to go all out to please him.

His uncle responded that what he made was a simple, typical breakfast, and that he had not done anything unusual ... for him. He went on to say that everyone sets standards for themselves. Breakfast for many people is just eating sustenance and they have never thought about how they could perfect every step in the process so that you end up making a meal that is the best that you can do. But if they do strive for "better" continuously, at some point the quality of what they produce ends up being consistently very high.

It was more a statement on how you live your life. Cooking can be a reflection of your approach to everything. Do the best that you can and if you burn the toast, do it again, right. Food can be both an expression of how much you care for others as well as a reinforcement for how much you care about yourself.

For everything you want to cook, there are things you can do to make sure it tastes as good as you can imagine it could taste, and there are things you can do that will minimize the chance that it will not turn out well.

So, let's think about that breakfast for a minute. There are numerous videos on youtube that teach you to cook perfect scrambled eggs. They explain the temperatures, how long to beat them and how to beat them. How hot the pan should be. How do you minimize the chance that the eggs will stick. How to season them, and when. How a heat-tolerant spatula makes the best utensil to stir the eggs. When you add cheese and what kind of cheese at what temperature. When do you remove them from the heat so they don't overcook.

Same with bacon. Same with hashbrowns. Same with everything.

If you want to be a better cook, strive to be one. Take everything one step at a time ... you might try learning to cook a new dish every day, or a new dish every week. Cook things multiple times and strive to get better each time.

Taste as you go, and if what you are making needs something to enhance the palette of flavor, figure out what that is.

Flavors are much like scents and the way we perceive them is similar. We can taste multiple things at one time ... top notes, bottom notes ... after tastes. Pay attention to those subtle differences and learn to manipulate them to achieve blends that are more satisfying.

For all we know for sure, we live once. There is no reason to live a life eating substandard food. Food is important. Food is sustenance, but a good diet can add ten years to your life, while a bad diet can cut 30 years off your life.

We are creatures with limited means to interpret the world around us ... and food is a sensory experience ...

Striving to be a better cook is a noble and worthwhile goal that pays off with a lifetime of rewards ... every time you eat. And it can be as much an expression of love as a kind word, a hug, or great sex.

It can be a gift to yourself and those around you.

But no pressure."


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