Thursday, April 23, 2009

Why Cooking is like Piracy

WARNING: Recipes are like the Pirate Code, they’re just guidelines
I find exact proportions in cooking totally overrated. I love the way old medieval recipes were written: they just listed ingredients and then gave you a rough idea of how to assemble them. I admire the confidence that old recipes required that you have in the kitchen, the ‘just wing it’ attitude that compels you to trust your ability as a cook. Consider this awesome fourteenth century recipe for apple pie from The Forme of Cury compiled in 1390 by the master cooks of King Richard III:
XXVII For to make Tartys in Applis
“Tak gode Applys and gode Spycis and Figys and resons and Perys and wan they are wel ybrayed colourd with Safron wel and do yt in a cofyn and yt forth to bake wel.”
In other words, mix together apples, pears, raisins, figs and spices—probably cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves and saffron—mix and put it in a pieshell, the ‘cofyn’, and bake. That’s it! Seems very low maintenance, doesn’t it? It also implies you know how to make a pie shell though… It is REALLY tasty though (I add honey).
This so makes sense to me. Everyone has their own taste preferences, so why not just give guidelines that you can accommodate to your own or your guests' taste? There’s nothing quite like being comfortable enough in the kitchen to feel that you can just ‘go with it’. Cooking requires a certain rhythm, and everyone has to find their own. Stop thinking and just do what feels right, that’s good advice for many aspects of life and I definitely think it applies to cooking as well.
All of this is my own way of warning you about the recipes I will post. Though I hope my recipes will be yummy beyond your wildest imaginings, veganism and a fairly unprocessed diet has caused my taste for sugar to have plummeted. Whenever I bake for others, my partner always tells me to remember that I’m “baking for normal people”, in other words, he’s telling me to add more sugar. If you believe yourself to be like most, then just add more sugar/sweetener, I can definitely see why you’d seek to do this, I’ve just lost the taste for it. I find my doses sweet enough though, but who knows, you can just use them as a baseline and increase (or decrease) them as you see fit!
So in general or when using my recipes, cook like a pirate: recipes are just guidelines, they’re only the beginning. I write measurements down only because I feel like I have to. Keep in mind that they are always “give or take”. Feel free to add up to an extra tsp for ingredients measured in tsp or tbsp and up to ¼ of a cup for ingredients measured in cups. Yarrrr...

1 comment:

  1. I love this idea :) It's so true. I don't think I have ever stuck to a recipe or made something the same way twice - even my own recipes!