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In My Opinion
Still Seeking My Culinary Nirvana
Wednesday, September 19, 2012 • Posted September 19, 2012

It's a presidential election year. But, I've got the two major parties discussing that over on page 15. The economy continues to struggle along slowly. But, I've trimmed business and personal budgets and will continue to make adjustments as needed. The world's climate fluctuates wildly attempting to correct extreme anomalies. But, I'm just grateful when it's relatively comfortable outside and we get some nice rains.

So, what's on my mind this week? Cooking!

Over the years, I learned how to scramble and fry and bake and poach. Much of that education came from watching my mother, my friends and my family as the daily meals were prepared, or as special occasions prompted gatherings that required deep frying, stuffing and basting. I've learned how to cook basic foods, a few speciality items, and one or two complicated and ornate dishes along the way. For those items, I had to start looking for recipes, and eventually recipe books.

In the last couple of years, I started watching a few of the different food shows. I enjoy Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, Diners Drive-Ins and Dives, and several of the PBS cooking shows. There's something about watching people take some basic ingredients, add some easy to find spices, use cookware we all have in our kitchens, and produce a dish that, even through the television, makes my mouth water.

A little over a year ago, I found the Deen brothers. Paula Deen's boys have several cookbooks that have a decidedly southern edge to their recipes. They're fun, easy to produce and the food is almost always good.

And then, about a month ago, my Amazon streaming video added a cooking show I had almost forgotten. The French Chef! Julia Child, in her early 1963 introduction to the public. In a kitchen that was, obviously, a television set piece. And she was laid back and silly and animated and completely watchable. And I was hooked.

If you've never watched The French Chef, you're missing an incredible piece of television. Julia Child started the cooking show as a means of helping to promote the cookbook she had helped coauthor, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It was, and still remains, one of the most important reference books for new cooks, and for those seeking new experiences. It weighs in at about two pounds, and was followed by a second volume of equal heft. Mrs. Child also produced a cookbook of her recipes from the television show, playing on a variation of themes from recipes drawn from the original volumes.

And now, I own all three of those cookbooks. Not that I've made a single recipe from the books yet; but, I will. I will find recipes that I know my dad and brother might enjoy and I'll try them out at home. Of course, it's a bit of a reach cooking some of these haute cuisine items when my supper last night consisted of pan fried Spam sandwiches.

I'll try recipes that contain ingredients that I've never heard of, and I'll try recipes that I've cooked in the past, only this time I'll follow the methods outlined by Julia Child. I will use techniques that I've done many times in the past, and I'll have to learn how to do things I've only ever read about.

And why cooking?

Cooking is a solitary experience. The cook takes their ingredients, their equipment and their appliances, and they create something. Only they know if something messes up, and only they know if the dish isn't exactly as it was planned. There is joy in creating something from nothing, and cooking is a joyous experience.

I'll probably hate some of the things. I hope I learn to love some new tastes that I didn't know existed. I'll probably pack on a pound or two from the butter and heavy cream, so I'll have to figure out something to leave out of my diet to balance it.

We'll get back to the big stories later; but, today, I'm going to cook!

It’s all just my opinion.

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