Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Processes & Recipes


I'll probably write one of these posts each week.  On Wednesday (I am not normally schedule sensitive like that, but it feels right). By 'these posts' I mean reflections.

Maybe my readers have not noticed in the least, but I have been consciously avoiding the moniker "recipe" for the things I add here (preferring "process").  There are two reasons behind this avoidance.  The first is that I have always had difficulty spelling "recipe" correctly.  I always put an extra i between the the p and e (recipie) and then have to back and fix it.  "Process," though at times one is tempted to add an extra c, is easier for me to spell and ends with a beautiful gliding hiss that draws you into the next word (instead of that explosive "pe" that tends to wind you).

The second is much more important, and goes back to the intent of this blog.  The word "recipe" comes from Latin, and is the imperative form of recipere, which makes "to take" (incidentally, this is why you see on your prescriptions).  It later came to mean something related to a list of ingredients that one uses in food preparation.   I probably won't give too many recipes on this blog, as most of them are kind of 'second-level' cooking, and depend on ingredients that are often not ingredients, but rather previously conglomerated ingredients.  That is, in simpler terms, most recipes depend on your going and buying butter or bread, ketchup, yoghurt, soy sauce, cheese, etc.  This style of cookery makes it so very easy to be completely disconnected from the process of cooking. 

So.  I use "process" to describe what is going on here (past participle of procedere, "to go forward").  I want to give all of you the tools and abilities to get out from under oppressive recipes, and get into the course and method of conscious cookery.  By this I don't mean knowledge of complicated technique or bringing a perfect souffl√© to table.  By this I mean deconstructing the cookbook.  By this I mean questioning the inclusion of "tomato sauce" or "chicken stock" as if the ingredient exists in its natural form as such.  I even mean asking what the hell a "sirloin steak" is without the cow?  Or a "turkey breast"?

This journey is not simply about gaining a bunch of nifty skills (though you will) - it is also about gaining a conscious appreciation for the foundations of cookery, and applying this consciousness to the pile of cookbooks you have laying around (I am not exempt from this charge!).  

Take one recipe this week and totally deconstruct it.  Surely, some recipes might take less work than others.   

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