Last week I encouraged you to find your Big Why To Cook In 2014.
This week, I want to explain how to cook in 2014.
Celebrity Chefs, cookbooks and cooking courses teach you skills to improve your cooking, which generally is what we think of if someone talks about “how to cook” – we also think of Delia’s book series on this very topic.
But your cooking skills are only part of the bigger picture.
Even if your kitchen was armed to the sink with appliances, knives, books and a cup of tea, and even if you can use them well, it is only part of the bigger picture.
There is an entire ecology that determines how each of us cooks and whether the resulting dishes are good to your tastebuds.
In my recently released book I surmised that we all have an Inner Foodie Tree – this is a metaphor to describe how we cook.
Your feelings and thoughts around those skills and ingredients, based on the information you’re taking in through your senses.
It all matters.
Without nutrients from the soil, the tree won’t grow. Well ok, it’ll grow a bit, because there’s enough energy in a seed to allow it to sprout, but it won’t allow for real growth. A tree in poor soil doesn’t grow properly: it’s stunted, it is often thin in the trunk, and it cannot develop.
Your feelings about yourself, the food you eat and your thoughts on cooking are like soil, it’s that important to developing your love for cooking. If your feelings towards these things are poor, you’re not going to be able to grow your tree much – the growth will be stunted, and thin on the important things needed to support the recipe leaves: ingredients and skills.
Ingredients and skills are the trunk of your tree – it supports the recipes you can and want to make. Your knowledge of ingredients and skills need to expand to support more recipes, but you can’t expand your knowledge of ingredients and skills without digging your roots deeper into your feelings and thoughts around the new ingredients you’re trying and the new skills you’re learning. It doesn’t have to be complicated though, only keep the ingredients and skills you like and discard the rest, and learn skills to enhance them.
And the leaves? Well, as you can see in this metaphor, they are the recipes that are supported by the skill boughs and ingredients trunk which is anchored into the soil of your thoughts and feelings.
The more ingredients and skills you have, the more recipes you can accommodate and make for yourself and your loved ones.
But the one thing that helps your tree grow is the environment it’s growing in – good sunlight, a gentle breeze, lots of room, a decent amount of rain. Trees need these things to grow too, and this helps the tree at all levels. Likewise, your senses – touch, sight, smell, sound (yes, sounds!) and taste – also supports you in learning to cook. Tasting and smelling what you’re cooking and eating are the obvious senses, but if you actually engage all of your senses when you cook, it makes a helluva difference, and it’s as crucial as sunlight and rain to growing your tree.
So where do Celebrity Chefs, cookbooks and cooking courses fit in?
They add to the trunk and leaves of the tree by teaching you the skills needed to follow recipes, and these are fundamental to learning how to cook.
But if you used shoddy ingredients, it doesn’t add much to the dish ( < yeah, that’s my “no $h!t Sherlock” moment, right there).
If you don’t use your senses while you cook to help guide your cooking and influence the final result, it might not turn out as well as it could. And it’s much less fun.
If your thoughts and feelings around food and cooking are ones of dread and dislike, the whole tree could die, either through a lack of nutrients, or through poisoning.
I’m pretty sure you can work out that one yourself.
To cook to the best of your abilities, you need to pull all of these elements together.
Scroll back up to the gorgeous illustration above by Lisa McLoughlin Art and think about your own Inner Foodie Tree.
Can you see the elements that you need to grow?
You can read more about this in my book – own your copy by clicking on the book cover book cover below:
Love and Laughter,