There’s a saying that I have always really liked, “When an old person dies, a library is lost.” I’ve been pondering this a lot recently and I think the quote should be modified to “When ANYONE dies a library is lost.”
People, young and old, are amazing tanks full of information. They have ideas, knowledge and experience across a whole variety of fields and subjects. These days we all seem to be in too much of a hurry to sit down and listen properly to one another, to each other’s stories and memories. There is so much we could learn from this too!
Due to us all coming from different backgrounds, countries and having different upbringings with such a wide variety of influences, opinions and beliefs, there is normally way more than one way to ‘skin a cat’ when it comes to doing ANYTHING. This is also true in the kitchen.
One person’s fundamental belief that people must “always keep their eggs in the fridge” is another person’s “always keep your eggs out of the fridge” is a third person’s “Eggs? You shouldn’t eat eggs!” No one is right and no one is wrong. (Well I’m not sure I, personally, can find anything right about “You shouldn’t eat eggs!” But my point is this, there are lessons to be learned from everyone’s beliefs and ideas not only when it comes to cooking, but when it comes to how we live as well.
The lessons that I have learned over the years in the kitchen or about food seem to quite obviously fall into two categories. The first one being “Practical Lessons.” These tips are specific, useful tid-bits about ingredients, cooking methods, recipes and the like. The second category is “Philosophical Lessons.” This refers to the spirit of cooking, the passion, the meaning of it all, the how’s and the why’s. Some would even consider these “life lessons” These philosophical lessons often stem from practical tips but have deeper meanings.
I would like to share with you 10 practical and 10 philosophical lessons I have learned from those around me, namely both of my grandmother’s and my parents. I’ve also thrown in a few from other sources such as books I’ve read, films I’ve watched, experiences I have had and stories that have come to me from friends.
1. Use your senses: Don’t just cook with your eyes. You need to taste, smell, touch and also listen to your food. You will always get a better result if you make use of all five senses when cooking. On the “listen to your food” side of things an example I can give you is if you are frying something and you hear it spitting and popping all over the place, you probably have the heat up too high.
2. Keep it clean: Always keep your workspace as clean as possible. The best way to do this is to tidy up as you go. Instead of creating a mountain of washing in the sink try and rinse dishes and equipment as they are used and place directly into the dishwasher or complete the hand washing process of items once they have been used and are no longer needed.
3. Plan: Place all of the ingredients that you need for the recipe you are about to cook on the bench prior to starting. That way you won’t get half way through your cake to realise you are missing a vital ingredient.