Recipes provide instructions for artist

In the Community, Making a Difference

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relations.” ~ Oscar Wilde, Irish poet, and playwright.

The notations made on the cards and clippings in a recipe box, and in the margins of cookbooks, are the diary of a cook, what they have prepared and how they have prepared it. Food is a necessary for nourishment, but eating is entertainment, positioning cooking as an activity on the social scale somewhere between drudgery and artistry.

Perceptions of cooks and the wording of recipes are often biased based on gender and ethnicity. A 1901 cookbook refers to the man of the house as one who “cheerfully sallies forth to labor for those he loves with a perfectly packed lunch.” Concerns over implied nativism prompted Epicurious, the online “recipe box,” to remove the word “exotic” from its descriptions.

“Cooking success is up to you! If you take pains to measure true, use standard cups and spoons all the way, and then level off, it always pays.” — Fannie Farmer (1896), the Boston Cooking school.

Fannie Farmer was the first culinary authority to use standardized measures of ingredients to be the foundation for a recipe, making it possible to prepare a broader variety of recipes with confidence. Without her innovation cooking would not be as popular as it is today; it has helped people to learn through experience without fear of failure. To an effete chef, it is uninspired cooking.

“If you had asked Renoir or Van Gogh to set down in grams the colors used to paint one or another of their canvases, could you thereupon produce the same canvas?” — Raymond Oliver, “The Man’s Cookbook.”

Artistry in cooking is only possible through the knowledge gained by experience and the attainment of skills. As the slogan, “The incredible, edible egg” reminds us, learning all about eggs is good place to begin. The use of flour and fats like butter adds dimensions to what you will be able to do. Terminology and technique are essential to cooking, learning the actions to whip, fold, knead, stir, makes you able to combine ingredients. Once combined, cooking can be done by any number of ways such as baking, roasting, and steaming.

You know you have come of age as a cook, when you can go to an open-air market such as the Alpena Farmers Market, and come home and make dinner with fresh locally grown options. A statistic posted in the Journal of Country Living states about 36% of Americans cook at home on a daily basis, with 13.7% doing so for the love of it. A local with a passion for cooking posted on social media, that a delicious meal was made from spinach, brown eggs from the market, and a cup of cream.

Bon Appetit!

“The culture of chefs is a melting pot, and I always say this — if we could put all the heads of state around a table, each representing their food culture, and then each take one bite of the other’s and pass it to the right, and then explain the ideals and culture around those bites, our world problems would be easier to solve.” ~ Robert Irvine.

Tom Brindley grew up in Iowa, and studied journalism and accounting. He is a retired controller from Alpena Community College and has been active in local nonprofit organizations. He can be reached at bindletom@hotmail.com. Read him here the first Thursday of each month.


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