Day 28: Always Use The Best Ingredients
I don’t know much about cooking.
I can poach an egg, but can’t make the hollandaise sauce that should go with it. I’ve a few friends who are fanatical about food and I enjoy their conversations, yet I can hardly keep pace with them. I know the names of a few critically acclaimed chefs, but have never sampled their food. Hell, I’m not sure I’ve even walked past any of their restaurants.
Even though I can’t taste any of the food, watching well educated men and women of the culinary world taste and cook the best food in the world makes me happy. The closing eyes, the slow chews of a savoured moment, the words quiet as they utter out a few words describing the dance performed by the buds of their tongues mades me happy.
Most often this is followed by a discussion of what they’ve just eaten. Two words you hear most often are “local” and “fresh”.
Marco Piere White recently appeared on an Australian cooking show and said, with his hardened expression as well as his words, one universal piece of advice. Don’t mess with the ingredients.
This is a thread that comes through constantly. When reviewers talk of how amazing the fresh and local food within a dish is, they do so because that’s what they’re able to taste because the produce has been given the space to do what it does best – be tasted. The quality of the ingredients of the best dishes are rarely muddied by one another – the good cooks and chefs don’t try to outdo mother nature.
And you remember those meals, don’t you? I consider myself lucky to hold a few fond memories of delights in food – the first salad I had with nothing but home grown vegetables; eating corn while watching a sun slip into its bath; enjoying fish that had been plucked from the Mediterranean sea forty minutes before it sizzled over a fire; and the cheese soufflé my wife made me to help me remember the meals my mother made before she passed away.
That’s the joy of food. When it’s good it’s not just delicious. It’s soul enriching.
It’s only once a skilled culinary craftsman knows her ingredients as if she were their mother that she will start to push them further, combining flavours in more exotic and ingenious ways.
As designers we haven’t got the ingredients the earth offers the chefs. Our ingredients are made by the nature of the soul of the creative mind – the illustrators and photographers, the type designers and copywriters.
Should we wish for the audience to enjoy the meals we prepare, and of course this is all we ever want, we must do what we can to provide for them the best possible ingredients. We mustn’t over season or undercook, we mustn’t split nor curdle.
We have to remove our egos and never think the frozen vegetables are good enough, the supermarket meat fine, the three day old fish dandy. We must simply cook with fresh ingredients, not get in their way and allow the audience a chance to have a moment worth remembering.