You Carry Within You All The Ingredients To Turn Your Cooking Into Joy. Mix Them!


This above fact is true. Every human being was innately born with everything and more than we need to turn cooking into a joyous and successful craft. What animal cooks its food? Our anatomy is built and has evolved into a body ready for cooked food. We are the only species in the animal kingdom that alter the temperatures of our ingredients for easier digestion. So lets examine some of the tools weve been given to accomplish this.

First our tongue; unlike common folklore states, our tongue does not have specific regions for the tastes. Instead all taste buds are capable of perceiving all of the tastes but some are more sensitive to particular tastes than others, and these tend to group together. Your tongue is a magical place and evolution has made it easy for us to disntiguish nutritive food from foods that are not so, just by tasting them. Typically, sweeter (and by sweet I don’t mean candy sweet, but naturally sweet) foods are packed with nutrients and bitter foods are not so much. This is why we instictively dislike bitter foods. Of course, there are many exceptions to this rule and bitter can definetley become an acquired taste. Our tongue is also the first place food starts to break down. Our saliva contains enzymes that start the breakdown of foods.

By the time the food we are eating has touched our tongue though, it has already been examined and evaluated by our eyes, nose, and sometimes ears. Although it might seem that our tongue is our most powerful or important sensory tool while eating, it isn’t so. Eating is one of the few things we do that completely stimulate all of our senses. Your nose and sinuses are also paramount in detecting flavor. What is Flavor? Flavor is the combination of taste (that which you detect in your mouth) and aroma (the smells and scents of food detected by your sense of smell.) Remember last time you had a cold how everything “tasted” like nothing? Well, thats because most of the times when we have a cold, our sinuses are congested and our capacity to recognize aroma molecules is muted. On the contrary, it is also, for example, hard to precisely taste a food after stimulating your sinuses with a harsh substance like cigarette smoke or the smell of vinegar. This is why in tasting you generally move from mellower to stronger flavors. Next time you eat, try to place close attention to the difference between taste and smell and try to separate smells from each other.

Why? This is when cooking comes into play. As cooking has evolved we have found, by trial and error (mostly error), combinations of foods that pair well together. Like tomatoes+pasta+parmesan cheese, or something as simple as bread+butter. But these established combinations wouldn’t have been possible if we didn’t try them first! This is your task: create new combinations. The world of food is flooded with potential of flavors, aromas, and textures that haven’t been mixed yet. Go to your market or grocery store and buy 10 ingredients you’ve never cooked before, and try them on different things, potentially everything. Some of your outcomes you’ll be disappointed by, but many more you’ll be pleasantly surprised by. Here, your senses are your allies. Use your senses to imagine how a combination of things may create balance. And last but not least, try everything you are going to cook in its purest form first! Before it hits the pan take a bite. See how cooking affects its texture, taste, and aroma. You may find that some foods are even better raw, or cooked for long periods of time. The idea is for you to try new things. Your body is gifted with all the ingredients necessary for you to have a delicious meal every time you cook. Mix them! Preferably with something new.

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