Sunday, October 30, 2011

Thoughts on Relationship

They say a musician becomes one with his instrument, an artist becomes one with his paintbrush and a poet becomes one with his words.  I think it is also true to say that a chef becomes one with his kitchen tools.

I got a new frying pan for my birthday.  It is beautiful and red and enamel-lined cast iron.  Perfect for cooking.  And yet, it is a stranger in my kitchen.  I do not know how it responds to heat, how much oil it needs, how it behaves when I am sautéing or simmering or caramelising.

I must observe, and through trial and error (which means taking a step backwards - burning a few things, undercooking a few things, and unintentionally destroying a few things) learn how to cook all over again.  I must learn the personality of the pan if we are to work together.

If I expect my new pan to behave as my old pan did, then I not only have no need of the new pan; I also have unrealistic expectations.  If I am impatient with the new pan, I will never reach the level of cooking to which I am accustomed.  If I skip steps and try to rush the process, I will not value my pan for what it can do and will overlook some of its capabilities.  It takes time to learn all the nuances of a new pan.

If, on the other hand, I take the time to build relationship with the pan, to observe and study it, find out where it excels and how to work with it, then I will have no need to think the next time I cook.  We will perform a beautiful dance in the kitchen - my pan and I - that comes from knowing your partner so well it is hard to tell where one leaves off and the other begins.  We will have become one.

1 comment:

Elisabeth said...

I've never heard anyone talk about a pan this way;)
Would u believe I don't own even one, and besides eggs and hash browns I have never cooked anything in my life?!
The way you write about it makes me really want to learn!