Cooking is a Work of Art
Cooking is classified as a culinary art and rightfully so. It is indeed an art form. Just like other types of art - literary, performing, etc. - cooking requires lots of hard work, perseverance, dedication, patience, practice, creativity, and of course talent, though talent can be developed if not present in the beginning.
In music, performers can take an already existing song and tweak it to make it their own. The same is true when it comes to cooking. You can take an already existing recipe and alter it in any way you desire, be it to add some ingredients, take some ingredients out, change the proportions of the ingredients used or change the cooking method and/or cooking time. When you do that you create a new recipe and that is always a fun thing to do. But the best experiences come when you forget about the existence of a cook book, open the fridge and pantry, see what ingredients you have at your disposal and create something your mind conjures up. You can even do that by going into a supermarket. Regardless of where you are let your mind wander, pay attention to your body's cravings, and see what ideas come into your head. Be sure to have a pen and paper handy to write those ideas down so you can later turn them into culinary works of art for you and others to enjoy.
In Cooking Presentation Is Key...
When it comes to cooking presentation is key. If the food is thrown onto a plate and it doesn't look presentable or edible for that matter, then most likely people will not want to try it, no matter how great the dish may be. On the other hand, if the dish is laid out on a plate in artistic fashion then it will look edible and people will give it a try, even if in the end it may not taste as great as it should, or if it turns out they will not like it all.
So when it is time to feed others, or even yourself, don't just throw food onto a plate as if a volcano erupted. Think of the plate as a blank canvas, and the food you are about to put on it as colors of paint. Or think of the plate as an empty room and the food as the accents you are going to place in it. No matter how you think of it, picture how you want the plate to look so it is appealing to the people that are about to enjoy this dish. A dish that looks delicious will ensure that people will try it, even if they weren't planning on eating it, or weren't craving it at the moment.
Especially when people are spending money on their food, they don't want to get large plates with not much food on it, as it causes them to think they are either getting ripped off, or are not getting their money's worth. But using large plates actually makes the food look more presentable and enticing. It also gives you the chance to be very creative in your presentation and to express yourself in ways you may have never thought possible.
With large plates you can spread out your food rather than throw it close together, which insures that different foods will not get mixed together, as not everyone likes that. You can also decorate your plate with sauces, herbs, or other things that come to mind. What you can also do to create a more appealing look for your dishes is pick out the plates themselves. Instead of using plain round plates, you can try using squares ones, or those of more interesting shapes. The more interesting the plate, the more attractive the presentation. And if your plate already happens to have a design on it then it is already partly decorated. You may not even need to add that much decoration on to it, if at all.
Don't just plop your food onto any old plate you find close to you and serve. Take your time and be creative. Make sure that your delicious meal gets all the attention it deserves both in taste and in presentation. Leave your diners craving for more...
Practice Makes Perfect
Just like in any other art form practice makes perfect. When you are in the kitchen preparing your dishes, especially those you have not made before, it is possible that they might not come out to your liking. That is okay. Do not get discouraged. You have to keep on trying. The more you do something the better you will get at it. So, making the same dish again (or as many times as it takes) will help you perfect it, and before you know it will be at its best. Feel free to share your recipes and cooking experiences with others at it may help them improve their craft as well.
Useful Cooking Tips
Below you will find some cooking tips that I hope you will find useful the next time you are in the kitchen ready to prepare your next meal, be it solely for yourself or for a group of people.
- Make sure your food looks delicious before people take that first bite. If the food doesn't look good enough to eat no one will want to try it.
- Be sure to sample your dish while you are making it, so that you can fix it up if it is not as great as it can be. Maybe the dish is in need of more salt or spices, or maybe the food is not tender enough. Whatever it may be, if you try your dish in the midst of cooking you will ensure that it will come out at its best. Don't wait until the dish is done because it may be too late to fix it.
- Never add too much salt or spices as that will ruin the dish you are making. Remember, that you can always add more salt or spices if the dish requires it or the person eating the dish requests it.
- Certain foods, like chicken breast for example, cook very quickly so make sure to not overcook them or they may become dry, not tasty, or edible.
- When you are cooking, especially when frying or broiling something, keep a watchful eye out on the skillet, or wherever your food is cooking. If you forget about your dish then the ingredients may burn and that will ruin the taste and even the presentation of your dish. That is something you always want to avoid.
- Make sure to use the freshest ingredients in your cooking. Ingredients that are spoiled, whose expiration date has passed, are not yet ripened (if fruits or vegetables), are stale (if breads, crackers, cookies, etc.) will ruin your dishes and they will not taste their best.
- When you are making a new recipe (that you have come up with yourself) be sure to take a pen and a notepad and write everything down. Note the ingredients you used, the cooking time, the preparation time (if known), the steps you took to create the dish, and any other comments you wish to keep. All these things are very important and will come in handy the next time you decide to make this same dish, as you may not remember every single step and ingredient in the dish. Instead of a note pad you can even keep a cooking journal where you can write down your recipes, your experiences, and anything else related to the culinary arts that come to mind.
- Some of your best dishes will come about by experimenting and trying new things. So don't be afraid of doing this when you are in the kitchen.
- Sometimes it is great to have music playing in the background when you are cooking. It can be very inspiring, relaxing, and can make your cooking experience even more fun. But don't blast loud music as if you are in a nightclub. This may distract you and cause you to make mistakes in your cooking. Having it play softly in the background is best.
- When you don't have all the time in the world to prepare a meal sometimes it might be helpful to ask someone to assist you in the kitchen. If you get some extra help think of this cooking experience as a team effort and not as you being the boss and they being there to be ordered around. If you start bossing people around this will not work. Both of you have to work together side by side, assisting each other and helping each other out to lessen the cooking time, and increase productivity, while at the same time insuring top quality results.
© 2012 Lena Kovadlo