What Does “Cooking” Mean?

That is a question that can be answered in many ways, but let’s start with the basic definition:

Cooking:  1. the act of a person or thing that cooks; 2. the art or practice of preparing food; cookery.

Cooking as art: when you create something from scratch using previously learned techniques (or even creating new ones), but without following a particular recipe or “protocol”, and the final result is outstanding…to me that’s art.  And art is often challenging to replicate.
When cooking the same dish over and over and each time you make it faster, tastier and as close to perfection as it can be done, that’s practice, or as I like to call it: great craftsmanship.

For me cooking is a profession; it is also a necessity, a hobby and something that fulfills me.  I’m very passionate about cooking and food in general, that’s why I love spending time in my “orto”, as we call in Italian the backyard vegetable garden.  The fact that in life the more “positive” energy you spend on something the better it usually gets, that couldn’t be truer than with food.

A popular whine-line I frequently hear: “…but I don’t know how to cook!”  Guess what, I didn’t either!  But through practice, experience, and mostly trial and error, I was able to master….no, not ”cooking”, cannot “master” cooking;  cooking is a continuous, never ending process.  I mastered the confidence and enough knowledge needed to be comfortable in the kitchen.

What I see mostly in novice cooks is the “fear” of doing it wrong, of f@#%ing it up! And for sure you will, it is part of the game, ask any great Chef.  In the kitchen you learn most from mistakes; it’s all in figuring out what went wrong and giving it another try.  You don’t become a good cook overnight, it takes time and patience.  As a beginner you want to learn techniques, not recipes.

Knowing how to use kitchen tools, learning the way ingredients mutate around different temperatures and how they behave when mixed together, those are some of the steps needed to progress in the kitchen.  Starting with the selection of the proper ingredients and ending with the mouth watering enjoyment of your hard labor, cooking can be a very pleasing experience.  Don’t be afraid, the kitchen never ate anyone!

Come back next week to discover the unusual street food sold on the streets of my hometown, Florence.