Cooking is philosophical activity…..as the hungry philosopher, I rest my case. It also helps to have Michael Ruhlman’s Rulman’s Twenty: 20 Techniques, 100 Recipes, A Cooks Manifesto that opens with the chapter, “Think: Where Cooking Begins.”
It’s underrated. If you have a recipe, do you have to think? When you open a book that says, “Combine A and B, add C, stir, and bake for 20 minutes at 350℉/180℃,” do you simply follow the instructions?
Cooking doesn’t work that way. Cooking is an infinitely nuanced series of action, the outcome of which is dependent on countless variables. What’s the simplest dish you can think of? Let’s say buttered toast. Can you write a perfect recipe for it? There is no exact way to convey how to make buttered toast and account for all variables. The temperatures of the butter has a huge impact on the final result, as does the type of bread, how thick it’s cut, and how hot your toaster gets. Because all the variables in cooking can never be accounted for, whether you’re cooking from a book or cooking by instinct, it stands to reason that the most important first step in the kitchen is simply to think, even if all you’re making is buttered toast.
Thinking in the kitchen is underrated.
Before you begin. Stand still. Think.