The idea of cooking a meal tends to fall into one of four categories, depending on the person being asked about it.
- “Cooking? I love it! I cook for fun, don’t even eat it and don’t care about the waste. I just love the feeling of creating something from nothing.”
- “Cooking? No. Not happening. I will burn it, it will taste foul, and I know what I like – and that’s takeout and restaurant food.”
- “Cooking? Well sure I can give it a go. I have some staple recipes that I know how to do reasonably well, but I’ve haven’t had time to try anything more adventurous than that.”
- “Cooking? I do it because I have to. I hate it, but I know my kids and I should eat fresh food. I despise every second of it, though.”
Some of these reactions are displayed by people who there’s not much help for. 1 and 2 are set in their ways. Perhaps 4 could be persuaded to find some joy in their own creations, but it’s unlikely.
The real pearl in the oyster here is the third option. A chef who doesn’t know they are one – yet. Someone who cooks for function, so they don’t have the opportunity to experiment.
Sound familiar? An enormous number of us fall into this category. We love food, but we don’t have the time to go beyond a few tried-and-tested recipes we know we can rely on. That hesitancy goes beyond the cooking itself; it influences what we choose to cook. We tend to leave aside different ingredients, afraid of cooking them and making a mistake. They become our food White Whales (in the Moby Dick sense… not the eating sense, of course!)
The items that almost-chefs tend to shy away from remain fairly consistent, and it’s a shame. They are ingredients that you assume will be difficult, when in reality, they might just be the making of you rather than the other way around. So break out of your comfort zone and harpoon one of these (metaphorical) white whales.
Tofu is often maligned as being bland, for vegetarians only, needing a drink to wash it down and being generally unpalatable. It really isn’t. If done right, tofu is a low-everything substitute for meat that’s also more affordable. You just have to experiment and find a way of seasoning it to make it work for you. It’s easily enough found in most grocery stores, or you can order special varieties online to get you started.
Some of us shy away from the idea of cooking fish out of fear we will not prepare it correctly and end up unwell as a result. Don’t be. Fish tends to be obvious when not prepared properly. Start with fillets, so you don’t have to go through the arduous deboning process and work your way up. You can buy fish fresh from a market or online from the likes of www.Citarella.com if you want a whole range of options.
- Fine Patisserie Baking
Dreamt of crafting a croquembouche? Perplexed by profiteroles? They’re renowned for how fiddly they are, but the only thing that will fix that is trying over and over again to perfect fine pastries. Give a good starter recipe from the likes of FoodNetwork.com a go; chances are even if it goes wrong it will still be delicious!