I’m not a firm believer in having a ton of rules when it comes to cooking but I do believe in a few guidelines, and they are just that; guidelines. They can be bent, broken, followed to the T, or ignored completely. I don’t expect for everyone to have the same beliefs that I do, in fact I expect I shall be offending people from time to time (e.g. vegetarians (especially those damn vegans). Although my intentions are not deliberate, it’s inevitable I will be offending someone probably within this very article. So for the faint of heart, if your feelings are easily bruised and your ego requires constant stroking please go buy a puppy. You will not find that kind of caressing here.
Guideline # 1 – Have something to drink, Always! This musing is called Two Drink Minimum for a reason. I don’t believe any meal is cooked properly unless those who are cooking the meal have some sort of alcohol based refreshment. I implement this guideline for a multitude of reasons, because cooking should be something fun, exhilarating, and adventurous. Cooking should not be mundane, boring, conventional, or dreaded. Whether your preference is Wine, Beer, or Hard Liquor it really doesn’t matter, well it does matter but again these are guidelines. Some of the most delicious things I stumbled upon while I was far from sober and decided to try something on a spur of the moment drunken whim.
Guideline # 2 – Don’t be afraid. Dear god this is so important. The honest truth is we all fail, we all have failed, and we all will continue to fail. It doesn’t happen all of the time, but don’t be afraid of failing. Making mistakes is how we improve one tiny step at a time. I’m not a professional cook, and I have no intention of becoming one, for two very specific reasons which I will discuss at a later time. So having an unyielding passion to learn to cook I’ve had to do research and find out how to improve on various tricks of the trade. What to look for, how to determine what mistakes are being made, tips and tricks to avoid making those mistakes again. I highly recommend the internet. Access to the internet is not free, but 99.999% of the information on it is!
Guideline # 3 – Be adventurous. In a way this sort of relates to the last guideline, but not really. Try new things, explore what you don’t know, new techniques, new flavor combinations, cultures outside of your own. Life is all too short to live with the ordinary. Adventure brings life to the table, and in turn to you the cook. Are you used to having meatloaf on Wednesday nights? Using the same recipe you have for decades, and you wonder why not only you but your family wishes it was any other night but Wednesday? There is a reason why local restaurants change their menu regularly, because cooking the same food night after night brings mental anguish that no living thing deserves. So quit suffocating your friends and loved ones with the same menu and do something new.
Guideline # 4 – Invest in quality not quantity. It doesn’t get any simpler than the old Chinese proverb “you get what you pay for”. Ok that proverb may not be Chinese, in fact I’m not quite sure of the origin. What is for sure clichés are clichés for a reason… They are true. The sad part is quality doesn’t always cost you more, but simply takes more time to develop. Consider the $15.00 stainless steel “chef’s knife” that you have lingering in your drawer amongst an assortment of other knives. How often do you replace these? Once every 6 months? Once a year? Once every couple of years? If that’s the case the only thing that can help you is a very stiff drink and therapy. Will expensive tools and gadgets make cooking easier for you? Not always, higher price does not always indicate higher quality. Does a high quality set of knives make cooking easier? Oh F#*k yah it does, as well as safer and a hell of a lot more fun.
The quality of the food that you’re using is also just as important. Instant food that comes in a box, contrary to popular belief, is NOT FOOD! That bottom feeder fecal matter is nothing more than saw dust that is one molecule away from being plastic and has been drowned in salt and MSG in order to mask how absolutely terrible it is. Look around at your local grocery stores/farmer’s market/market places etc… to find out what they have to offer. Talk to the butchers, fish mongers, and bakers to find out what they know. These people are the heart and soul behind quality food and they can give you priceless information you otherwise would not have known.
I cannot impress enough how great it is to cook quality food. Cooking in many ways has been a life saver for me and I don’t expect it will be for everyone, but let me just say this. To all the people that think food “is just food”, are too lazy to go into the kitchen and make something, think Sandra Lee is actually talented, purchase instant mashed potatoes or any other food that doesn’t belong in a box; QUIT WASTING THIS PLANET”S F@#KING OXYGEN! Ok that’s a bit harsh, but seriously people I implore you to think outside the box (no pun intended).