Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Cooking page 1

My brief “philosophy” of cooking.

This morning’s paper had an article about an IT person who changed careers to teaching cooking. Naturally my wife asked “why not you?”

But that got me thinking about food. OK I was already thinking about food. Maybe I’m just hungry.

I’m trying to boil down my thinking of the issue and not sound half-baked or too flakey.

Precept 1- I believe people need to eat together. Eating should be a communal experience that brings people together to share a meal. That means that eating on the run, in front of a television, while reading the newspaper, on the telephone, at your desk, and a plethora of other “instances” doesn’t count.

Everyone in the household should sit down as one and eat. My definition of household is everyone under the same roof at the same time.

Precept 2- The cook should use what is in the cupboard. That means it is unfair to call a pizza joint or Chinese Take-out and have a delivery made. That means that someone before the meal should have considered the meal. A well-stocked cupboard allows options.

Precept 3- I have a thing for what I will term local basic ingredients. An Eskimo family doesn’t eat ostrich meat. I have nothing against eating foods of different ethic origin but I also don’t think one needs to go to great effort and expense to have just the right esoteric ingredient. It is possible to make a primavera sauce from things found in your backyard garden (should you have one) and you don’t have to air-freight Roma tomatoes for a pasta sauce.

Precept 4- The cook has a responsibility to have at least one dish that each person will eat. I happen to cook for one son who wants to eat , what might be termed a “kosher” meal. That means I’m not going to serve pork chops, green beans with fatback, cornbread with lard, and a shrimp salad. I might serve one but I don’t starve him. Children are finicky eaters because we train them to be. I’ve found that if children help cook a meal they will sometimes be less picky.

Precept 5- The cook must by all means cook with what is termed love, mindfulness, or caring. Just tossing some ingredients together based on some magazine recipe3 does not constitute cooking. That is duplication. If the recipe says simmer for 15 minutes that doesn’t mean set a digital timer. A good cook pays attention to the process and checks taste and progress.

OK that’s five of my ideas. There are others to come.