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Cooking Should NEVER be a Competetive Sport
Also by this Author...
It's Very Sad.
If you haven't noticed yet, food has become a competitive sport on TV. Chefs come together and 'duke it out' with one another in the kitchen in order to be THE BEST. The concept of 'the best' when referring to food is silly since everyone's palate is as unique as their fingerprints. What tastes good to you, may not taste good to someone else. Taste in food and wine is very personal and subjective- like Art. I contribute to some food sites and I am always dumbfounded by the heated arguments that some members have over the best restaurants, or the best way to prepare a dish. Sometimes the comments are quite arrogant and demeaning.
Some of the participants I've had in past gourmet tours exhibited a snobby attitude towards food. For example, I once had a man in my group who boasted about the very expensive wine cellar he just built in his home. He admitted that he had only recently "gotten into" wines and that he owned some of the best vintages his money could buy. He kept quoting facts about wine that he had either read in books or seen on the Food Network. During the tour, however, I noticed that despite all the wine information he had memorized to impress others, he lacked wine culture, which is something you cannot buy because it is deep-rooted in Old World tradition.
Many of the people who came on my tours were self-proclaimed "foodies" or wrote food blogs- even those who admitted not knowing how to cook! That is something I cannot fathom. How can you write about food, if you don't cook? To me, that is like a person contributing to a medical journal without knowing human anatomy- but then again, that's only my humble opinion.
I was once contacted by a college student who was doing her thesis on the Slow Food Movement and wanted to know what I thought of this trend (movement begun by an Italian protesting against fast food). I told her that the 'trend' of using locally grown, fresh produce and making things from scratch to be eaten in a civilized manner (meaning sitting down at a table and enjoying a meal, not gulping it down in 10 minutes in front of a computer screen) is NOTHING NEW. I grew up in this "slow-food" manner, and so did many others I know who came from Old World (Mediterranean) backgrounds.
I was fortunate enough to have been exposed to an Azorean mother who cooked from scratch. The heart of our home was the kitchen, and the same was true in the homes of our female relatives. Some of my best memories include cooking with the women in my family. We chopped and sliced as we chatted, laughed and sipped wine. In every home I have ever lived in, I have always made my kitchen a sacred space.
Cooking should not be a competition- it is an Art. When I cook a meal for my husband, friends, or family members, I am preparing something that they will be putting inside their bodies. It must be nutritious, made with the finest and freshest ingredients (the most crucial ingredient always being LOVE), and taste wonderful. I don't strive to be the best, I strive to produce something that will please the palate and satisfy.
Stress, arrogance, competition, anxiety or any other negative feelings should NEVER be allowed in the kitchen. Seriously. How can anyone produce anything worth eating with all those ugly feelings in the air? Think about it. As always, thank you for reading!
C. De Melo
Author & Artist