On Making Your Food Your Bitch
Provocative title, no?
Have you ever been around people who work with animals for a living? The good ones treat the animals with a casual lack of ceremony that can border on harshness to the uninitiated. They don’t treat the animals like babies, or their BFF, or breakable china. They treat them like animals. They’ll bump them out of the way, speak to them in a stern tone, and expect obedience. And you know what? The animals thrive because of it. They know who the boss is, and that is good, because animals in the wild have a leader, and that’s the way they like it. A dog may be man’s best friend, but a good dog owner is the pack leader.
Why am I giving a short lesson on animal husbandry? Because a good cook is pack leader in their own kitchen. Don’t get me wrong, I am a firm believer in respecting your food (I will speak to this topic in another post). But, a successful cook is boss of the food they handle. I can hear you now, “What the heck is this crazy lady talking about?”
This is what the crazy lady is talking about: make a commitment. Don’t be tentative, don’t be shy. If you’re kneading bread dough, don’t lightly massage it. You aren’t on a date with it, you’re making bread. Get in there and knead the darn (*Note from the Whisk* I kind of love that though the name of this post is “Making Food Your Bitch”, she self-edits the word ‘damn’) stuff. If you do it right you’ll feel it in your arms. It’s exercise. You aren’t doing your dough any favors by babying it, and you’ll end up with crappy bread that never reached it’s full bready potential. If you’re whipping cream by hand, whip it! Otherwise you get bubbly liquid cream stuff. Take charge, your food does not know from being nice. Treat your family nice, treat your food the way it needs to be treated.
Yes, there a plenty of foods that demand a light touch. You overwork pastry or biscuit dough, and you get something that bounces, and can’t really be called food. If you are putting herbs under the skin of a chicken, you can’t pretend that you’re the incredible Hulk, or you’ll get a ripped up hot mess. Know which foods need a light touch, but you are still the boss. You can’t charm food into being delicious.
So, my message is this. If you are chopping herbs, chop them, don’t bend them. If you’re searing a piece of meat, put it in a smoking hot pan, and leave it alone and let it brown. Don’t coddle your eats, and you will get a better product. If you can’t bear to take charge in your kitchen, collect take-out menus, because you will never be a good cook.
*On another note; please accept my apologies on the missed post last week. Who knew moving a child into a dorm and leaving them to fend for themselves would be such a stressful experience? I had the best of intentions, but writing a column completely deserted my brain. I can’t promise I will never let you down again, but if I do I will be really, really sorry.
Thanks for your time and attention-The Mother of the Whisk