Sunday, February 7, 2010

Part 2, Lesson 7: Stepping Outside of Your Culinary Comfort Zone

Part 2: "I Don't Know Anything About Food"
Lesson 7: Stepping Outside of Your Culinary Comfort Zone

"I cook this way because this is what I grew up eating."
I have heard this excuse over and over and over when people try an explain away the box of Hamburger Helper and tub of margarine they just devoured.  But guess what: your parents gave you that crap because they were poor and you were a picky asshole kid.  Don't worry, all kids are picky assholes.  Their taste buds are still developing and are, most of the time, super sensitive to certain flavors (this can actually change in a child from week to week).

Now that you're all growed up it's time to expand your culinary horizons.  I grew up eating generic mac and cheese, white rice, and ramen.  These days I prefer food with actual flavor.  You can too.  Note: chow mein is not what I'm talking about here.

Discovering New Cuisines and Flavors
Have you ever tried Somali food?  Peruvian?  Do you know the difference between Thai and Vietnamese food?  If you're lucky enough to live in an area with a wide variety of cultures, don't be afraid to try out your local ethnic restaurants.  If you don't have this opportunity, you're going to have to do a little bit of research.  Remember the Cajun holy trinity of onions, green peppers, and celery?  It turns out that almost every cuisine in the world has its own version.  Check out this fascinating Wikipedia article on the subject.

Vegetables You Thought You Didn't Like
Think back to your childhood.  Are there vegetables that you absolutely refused to eat?  Do you still refuse to eat them?  It's time to give them another try.  If you've never tried Brussels sprouts sauteed in butter and garlic, you're really missing out.  How about mashed turnips or parsnips?  Roasted artichoke hearts?  I bet the reason you didn't like these vegetables is because your mom boiled the hell out of them.  Now that you know how to roast, saute, pan-fry, and stir-fry I bet you'll find a recipe you like involving a vegetable you thought you didn't like.

Your Homework
In your RFBC Journal, write down three "holy trinities" that sound intriguing to you.  Read up on a cuisine you know nothing about.  Find and make one recipe.  Remember to go outside of your comfort zone, even if it's just a little bit.  Here are some links and suggestions to get you started:
Thai - Pad See Ew
Vietnamese - Black Bean with Eggplant
Korean - Dubu Buchim Yangnyumjang
Indian - Chole
Somali - Zucchini and Cilantro Sabayah
Russian - Baklazhanovaya Ikra
Jamaican - Citrus Curry Rice Salad
Native American - Fry Bread
Peruvian - Papa a la Huancaina
Lebanese - Fattoush

What sounds good to you?  Personally I'm itching to try the papa a la Huancaina.

No comments:

Post a Comment