Cooking Isn’t Creative, and It Isn’t Easy
Replies: 7 - Last Post: Nov 18, 2012 12:35 PM Last Post By: tony0001
Nov 14, 2012 7:47 AM
Cooking Isn’t Creative, and It Isn’t EasyThe New York Times profiles Christopher Kimball of +Cook's Illustrated.
Nov 14, 2012 9:50 AM
1I'm not up to reading the whole article right now but just from what you've posted, he sounds like a real git. Baking is a science which takes work and precision. Cooking is a combinate of knowledge, a good palate, inventiveness and artistry. Sometimes it's hard to do well but sometimes it's instinct and I find it to be fun, especially when the results are yummy. Methinks he's on a bit of an ego trip.
Nov 14, 2012 3:05 PM
Nov 15, 2012 5:37 AM
3There are a lot of things that aren't easy to do, and that are hard to do well. It's hard to install central heating in a house that used to be heated by stoves; it's hard to build a house all by yourself. My grandfather did the former, an uncle the latter. If you don't do those things well, you may have disastrous results.
Cooking is quite forgiving. The stuffing in your Thanksgiving turkey may not be as flavorful as your mother's; the potatoes you put in the pan with your pork roast may not be as tender and golden as hers; your spaghetti with meat sauce won't quite capture the flavor that hers had. In most cases, though, the finished product will be edible.
Nov 15, 2012 9:47 PM
Nov 16, 2012 8:00 AM
5I like Cook's. It takes a slightly scientific bent to refining and improving recipes. Some of their recipes are great, some a bit less than great. I enjoy reading about the process to refine the recipes.
I actually agree that cooking well is hard work. Cooking adequately is less difficult. To say that something still comes out edible to me is not what cooking well is about. If I make something and someone says it is edible I have failed at cooking. I can only think of twice in my life that I made something that I considered inedible. Not that either would have killed you but they didn't produce an enjoyable eating experience. Not that everything I cook is "great" but the bar of "edible" is pretty low.
I don't agree that cooking is not creative. Following a recipe is not creative, but (with the exception of baking) I don't think most really good cooks spend a lot of time following recipes. It is moving past recipes where the creativity of cooking begins.
Nov 16, 2012 9:04 AM
6I agree with Stan. I like the science approach ot CI, but then I'm the kind of person who, if I ask what time its, wants to be told how to make a clock. I like some of the weirdness they do that seems ot work, such as adding a touch of anchovy to unlikely dishes.
However, I do find that many CI recipes other than baking are just not quite all they could be. The sacrifice a bit in the interest of speed, simplicity, and dearth of ingredients in many areas. I often use one of their recipes, but refer to a more difficult or complex one to add that fillip.
Speaking of ingredients, they are also a bit New England-centric, since they are based in Boston. For example, they always say that their preferred brand of supermarket chicken is Bell & Evans, which is not sold west of the Mississippi. They neglect to make the Hellman's/Best Foods and Arnold's/Orowheat distinctions. They are very fond of steak tips and meatloaf mix, which I have yet to find in California. The "curly spinach" they like is another "only east of the mIssissippi" product. And don;t get me started on clams and crab.
I have had good luck with baking. I've been buying their cooking for two books, which have some great reduced recipes, as well as ideas for using up leftovers. Most cooking for two recipes call for half a bell pepper, 1/4 cup of canned tomatoes, or 3 tablespoons of sour cream and you are stuck with the rest.
They also recognize that one can eat just so many chicken breasts & pork chops, so they have a section called "one big roast, three great meals." That will be a recipe for, say, roast beef or a whole turkey breast, and recipes for the leftovers.
Nov 18, 2012 12:35 PM
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