Thursday, April 28, 2011

What's Fun?

Since this is a blog about anything that goes on in your kitchen and mine I'll try to come up with some good questions from time to time. Well, at least some questions--it will be up to you to decide if they're good.
Today's Question: What's more fun--the cooking or the eating?
In the food world we talk about two processes: cooking and eating. It's like the difference between a gourmet and a gourmand. A "Gourmet" is fanatical about how things look on the plate and taste on the palate. For the most fanatical nothing but the finest flavors, textures, nuances and subtlties, and colors will do. Anything less that absolute perfection is not acceptable, resulting in food being sent back to the kitchen for reasons only the gourmet could explain if he/she were so inclined. The Gourmet Kitchen is probably bigger than my whole house and stocked with every pot, pan, knife set and condiment known to humanity, most of which most of us never heard of, couldn't find in any store, and probably wouldn't know how to use. "Knife set? Bah! Culinary instrument is proper!"
Pretty harsh on gourmets, aren't I? Truth is I guess I'm just jealous. Even after being a host in a winery tasting room and being somewhat educated on how the stuff is grown, made, and sold I still don't consider myself much of an oenophile. In fact, I follow the advice on one of the world's famous wine writers who was apparently fed up with the snobbery of the wine industry: "It doesn't matter how much it costs," he wrote peevishly, "if you like it, drink it!"
I guess that's how I approach food.
But to go on. I left you hanging out there breathlessly awaiting my trenchant comments on the other side of this coin, (talk about mixing metaphors!) the Gourmand. My dictionary says a gourmand is "a person who delights in eating well and heartily." (The American Heritage Dictionary, Second College Edition, Houghton Mifflin Com., Boston 1986, p. 569, if you care) It goes on to say "A gourmand loves good food and drink and partakes of it heartily, and sometimes excessively or gluttonously. The gourmet or epicure on the other hand, possess a discriminating and cultivated taste in food and wine,"
Well, now! Guess I'll never make it to the ranks of the gourmet and/or epicure!
Back to the original question now that we've got that out of the way. What's more fun--the cooking or the eating? If one is either gourmet or gourmand the fun seems to be in the eating. Doesn't matter who's slaving away over a hot stove or the quality of ingredients it's what arrives at the table that's important. For the gourmet/gourmand, and I suspect most of us, the fun is in the eating.
But wait! Isn't this blog about the kitchen? Got me there.
TGW (The Good Wife to you just joining us) doesn't seem to understand how I can search endlessly for recipes, subscribe to cooking magazines, and spend endless time in the kitchen assembling, measuring, sifting, stirring, beating and belaboring stuff just to get something edible on the table for supper. "Why are you working so hard?" she's been heard to ask quite frequently. My response? "I'm not working hard, I'm having fun!"
There you have it. What's more fun for me? Actually I like eating, and I like good food well prepared and served, but the real joy is in creating it. If it were up to me every meal would be a theatrical presentation on dinnerware specifically chosen to complement the dish being served, and I'd just stand back beaming with pride at the admiring murmurs as my guests savor my delicacies. Sigh. Probably not gonna happen, but the bottom line is that I like the cooking better than the eating, so there!
Now: What about you? What do you like best? I'd love to hear from you and I hope you'll be willing to share your stories of culinary delights. Your turn.