The first time I realised I had a flair for cooking was back in the day, barely a teen in a home economics lesson where my chocolate soufflé was taken out of the oven by our very strict teacher and shown to the rest of the class with an ever so slight hint of pride. But that being said, I’m debunking the myth that if you don’t have childhood memories like that then you’re no good in the kitchen. You don’t have to be good at cooking, you don’t even have to thoroughly enjoy cooking but you do have to have an interest in it and want to eat tasty food in the comfort of your own home and that’s the key that will drive you to stay on the beaten track. The fact that you found this blog and you’re reading this means that you do have some need to pursue it. Once you start and practise some very simple methods and techniques you will begin to yield better results and then you might even surprise yourself and appreciate it. In addition to that you have to KNOW bad food from good food. I’ve had times when I’ve sat in restaurants with people who couldn’t stop raving about how great the food was, contrary to me feeling unapologetically dissatisfied. While we’re debunking myths let me just say that because it’s cooked in a restaurant it does not automatically translate into being praiseworthy by default. Once you learn how to tell the essential difference between depth of flavour and blandness, over -cooked pasta and al dente, lumpy floury sauces and smooth sauces, a char-grilled steak and lump of char, spicy but not overpowering etc,etc, etc – your standard of eating will vastly improve. The truth is most of you do have skills in the kitchen or how else would you survive? Often you “just learned” by yourself and carried on from there so it’s just a matter of improving on those skills and learning some new ones as well as throwing out bad habits and replacing them with good habits. By working in stages you have a better chance of understanding food. Over the last fifteen years you probably have become inundated with food blogs, cook books, food magazines and cooking shows, that can often leave a person feeling exasperated and left behind, but don’t despair because if you want to eat better at home you need to start from the basics. Trying out recipes and having them work boils down sheer luck when you don’t understand the ingredients you’re working with. Once you unravel the secrets behind your ingredients you will be able to catch up with the rest of the world faster than you ever imagined. On the other hand, if you just try recipe after recipe without grasping why the recipe calls for chopped garlic instead of grated garlic (as a hypothetical example) you will in part always remain a beginner cook. By comprehending how ingredients work together you will eventually be able to cook without your nose in a cookbook, create your own recipes with confidence and become less recipe dependant. At that point, you are a fine cook and can only get better. To help you gain momentum, I’ve created this blog with posts that will explore the history of food and explain how food works by adding notes (Maestros Need To Know) together with the recipes for a greater understanding. Trying to cook merely by reading recipes can be likened to playing an instrument only by reading the sheet music. At KitchenOpera you will make sense of the dishes you prepare by learning the basic principles of cooking. In my opinion being a better cook boils down to the 4 T’s. Tools. Technique. Taste. Time. Like any work, the proper tools are essential as well as the correct technique hence I added a section called Tools that Truly Help (Tools) and No One is Born a Great Cook (Technique) which can be found in the page Some Kitchen Knowledge by clicking the menu bar. We’ve tackled Taste a bit here and why it’s so crucial, but as we go along and cook together you will learn to exploit your tastebuds to your advantage. Finally, Time. This speaks for itself. Only if you put in the time but more importantly if you give yourself time to improve and not rush yourself are you going to be the kind of home cook you want to be and CAN be.
About The Novice Cook