To cook well is to pull the best out of the freshest ingredients, yourself and your recipe. It takes a commitment to creating food that tastes good, looks good, and is hopefully good for you. Unless of course your making Cassoulet Toulosain or Thanksgiving dinner then it’s all good. When you cook food well you create an emotional bond between you and those who enjoy your food., and when you succeed-people remember your cooking long after your gone. I would give anything to taste my Aunt Dora’s Roast beef with Yorkshire Pudding and Roasted potatoes fried in lard again, with gallons of gravy. The fact is that when you have passion for the cusine and respect for the ingredients the result is being asked to make your signature dishes again and again. I always want my cousin Donna to make her crab dip for Christmas, even though she gave me the recipe and I made it to rave reviews too on one occasion. I think that she just makes it better than I do.
The only way to get there is through years of practice, and when disaster strikes as it most certainly will, taking note of what went wrong and why. Then not repeating the same mistake twice. The first time I made Pan Seared Salmon with Puy Lentils in Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil it was a mess, the salmon stuck to the pan, the lentils saut’eed with red and green peppers were too oily and the Balsamic could do nothing to save them. The second time around the fish came out perfect with a nice browning on one side but not too done and the lentils were balanced just right. Thanks Emeril for the recipe from the book you signed at Borders in Westbury for me, lots of good easy recipes. If you are workmanlike in your approach and chef-like in your observation of the food and how it reacts to the cooking process-then each each dish should get better with practice.
The greatest thing about learning how to cook is that almost anyone at any age can begin to learn cooking. Even if you don’t have thousands of dollars to go to culinary school, you can still for a small investment start learning the art of cooking well on your own. The internet has video demostrations by journeyman cooks to help you, and the shows available on TV/DVD can open a Pandora’s Box of information that wasn’t available when I was young. I still remember my mom and Grandma watching Julia Child and the Galloping Gourmet, they thought that Graham Kerr was charming and fummy. I watched an episode of his old show recently and I was bored beyond belief, half the show was spent telling a long lame joke before he cooked amything, and yet I remember the audience was enchanted by it all. How could we have known what would happen thirty or so years in the future. Where a TV channel would be created just to showcase clebrity chefs and later a second channel for lesser known cooks to have a chance at stardom, either way it wound up being a school for amateur cooks to learn and grow, and other channels would feature healthy cooking demonstrations and the Travel Channel focusing on the foods of distant lands.
It seems as our world got smaller, our palettes got bigger. The mac & cheese or franks an beans didn’t do it anymore for most. But I’m sure we all return from time to time to that special place where old time comfort food still lives, in our memories and that’s why we sometimes cook something just to taste it again. Yet, in these times of fast food, fast cars, and faster internet it’s become inportant to cook well. In order to win the heart of someone or impress the boss and his wife, or even your hipster crowd of friends. cooking is the modern equivalent of being a Renaissance artist, the best of them were held in high regard, but even the journeyman were recieved recognition as being on a higher plane. So we are all riding a culinary rocket that has no end in sight. Just as long as we take care of the planet, it will take care of us and that will ensure that plenty of fresh food and water will be available for all. But perhaps the biggest reason why we should cook well is, because our taste demands it.