Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Fun way to increase your cooking repertoire

I thought about this brilliant idea a while ago, but I'm just now getting around to posting it.

Here it is: you choose an ingredient. Not a main ingredient like rice, pasta, bread, vegetables, meat, fish. But an accessory ingredient, so to speak. Garlic, onion, different kinds of oil, different vinegars, different kinds of pepper, herbs (preferably fresh), spices, fresh lemon, fresh ginger, truffles (yum) and so on. You get the idea. Then you acquire said ingredient (not a token amount) and use it up over a shortish period of time, like two weeks or one month. This will force you to get inventive and out of your rut and comfort zone. Do not be indiscriminate and put ingredient x anywhere- that will not improve your cooking skills or expand your repertoire (is that a pretentious word in cooking? sorry). You probably will also lose money and time.

Here's an easy example. What is the most used herb in Italian cooking? Basil? Origano? No- it's parsley. The Italians say "e' come il prezzemolo, e' dappertutto". He's like parsley, he's everywhere. Start out by acquiring the fresh parsley. Try both Italian flat leaf and curly types. Compare and contrast (I only use the former). You might want to get a parsley plant or two. You might want to grow your own, and then start a herb garden. Try making salsa verde (both Italian and Latin American). Try making omelette aux fines herbes. Tabbouleh.  Experiment (it won't be too risky with parsley). Look up its nutritional value. Look up recipes and try them. If you know foreign languages, look up foreign recipes with parsley.

If you follow this over a period of months, or years (why not?), you should significantly improve your cooking skills and food knowledge, and have fun doing it.