Food, food culture, food as culture and the cultures that grow our food

Possible Epiphany

October 5, 2004

She’s going to try one of my recipes. And I’m scared.
What if she doesn’t understand and makes a dog’s breakfast of the thing. She might stop trying my recipes forever.

Although I have cooked since I was a child, I am new at writing recipes for other people. I am new at explaining cooking to people that have a different experience level or culinary background than I. What if I use too few words? Too many words are confusing. I don’t know if someone will understand, ‘the shoulders of the cabbage’, or not. I want to convey my enthusiasm for cooking but I know that folks that don’t make a sport of expanding their cooking repetoire also don’t have the sticktoitiveness of someone who does. (stick-to-it-ive-ness - it’s a real word).

I was thinking about this this morning, when she told me she had bought some ingredients to try the chalupsies when I realised, most cooking is taught by example. Most often you have seen and tasted the dish before you try to make it. You have watched it being prepared, seen the in-between stages. You build upon the techniques you learned at home when you try to copy something you have eaten in a restaurant or when you follow a recipe.

I learned how to cook because my father, who loves cooking, fried omelets every Saturday morning using daring combinations of food. My Aunties and Grams used to ‘practically’ compete with one another to see who could make the most delicious, most beautiful dinners. My Mom, a self-admitted non-cook, learned how to make her excellent tomato sauce based dishes from my Dad’s friend Campinella.

Reading a recipe, even with explicit imagery will not bring ease into the kitchen. Ease comes from practice, ease comes from enjoying every moment of touching, smelling and looking at the marvels of the food. Ease comes when folks hang out in the kitchen and start ‘yakkin’ (that has nothing to do with yaks or the ‘Y’ word). Like with anything, ease comes when you make ‘it’ your own.

debra at 10:11 | | post to


  1. is “she” me? because i am going to try those delicious looking chou farci. If it’s any good I might make them for our board meeting next week!

    Comment by KvR — October 5, 2004 @ 22:06

  2. that’s a great idea to test them out once or twice before making them for an important occasion. nice thing with this recipe - you cna make it the day before (and should) and then you have a lot less to do. if its monday you’re making them I could maybe lend a hand if you want. I’ll be very busy then, but… just a few minute run in and out.

    Comment by debra — October 6, 2004 @ 1:52

  3. great idea! see you monday!

    Comment by KvR — October 6, 2004 @ 6:45

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