Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Art of being ….. The wise cook and other stories

               I have written enough to establish food as an extension of art and expression. It is now time to sum up the series by treading on a very intangible line….being . A lot of times when I find myself anxious to create and thus rushing things (cooking processes) in the bargain, I am reminded of my grandfather ,a farmer telling me “son, remember ..the wheat will ripen only when it will ripen, learn to let it be”.

              Today, for me this life lesson holds as good in cooking as in any other discipline of art. A lot of times , we as cooks tend to speed up cooking by efficient equipment , blasting temperatures and technology wherein the wise cook knows exactly when he has to let the food just “be”. As a result of this controlling psyche, we now have express curing, express smoking, express drying and even express baking; and then we complain that the food in the good old days was better, of course it was.... because the cooks were patient!!! 
               Even with sculpting or carving we see a form in stone or wood and let it evolve with our chisel, everytime we rush it we lose sight of the inherent form. Now let me propose another intangible concept , be with me on this one … all the upsets and anxiety happen when we are not “being”… we are either wanting, having or trying and that’s not what we are designed to do because we are human "beings" . 
               Translated to food …. The wise cook understands that every time he is cooking in a frame of mind of  "being”, he is letting the food be, hence the food expresses itself completely in flavor, texture and taste with minimum intervention. The funny part …as modern cooks, it's these "natural flavors" in food that we strive for yet very rarely do we let a mustard, pickle or a cure fully mature or wait for a 12 hour slow fermentation to bring out the best in the bread…..because for me, a modern cook, cooking has become about control!!
               Here's a recipe for Worcestershire sauce, boil everything for 5-7 minutes then just let it “be” for 2 months :)

2 cups - distilled white vinegar
1⁄2 cup - molasses
1⁄2 cup - soy sauce
1⁄4 cup - tamarind concentrate
3 tbsps - kosher salt
1 tsp - whole black peppercorns
1 tsp - whole cloves
5 cardamom pods, smashed
4 red chilies dry, chopped
2 cloves - garlic, smashed
1  - 1" stick cinnamon
1 anchovy, chopped
1  1⁄2" piece ginger, peeled and crushed
1⁄2 cup - sugar

1 comment: