My husband just had a birthday this past weekend. He’s not real big on birthdays, but he loves to have his favorite foods on his special day. He always requests the same meal: lamb chops, potato gratin and apple pie. As this is his very favorite meal, I have a lot of experience making it. Unfortunately, this was not my best showing.
The grill caught on fire and charred the lamb while leaving the inside totally rare. I didn’t cook the potatoes long enough and they were totally al dente. The cauliflower dish which is normally fantastic went to the table too cool. The pie at least was fantastic! (I have never messed up a pie to date, I can almost make one in my sleep at this point.)
Doing something wrong….especially REALLY WRONG is an important part of the learning process. The only way to know what the boundaries are is take them too far, or not far enough. The only way to develop a sense of intuition in the kitchen is to allow yourself to fail. Estimate what teaspoon of salt looks like instead of using a teaspoon. Add a couple of splashes of vinegar instead of 2 teaspoons and taste it to see how it comes out. Make substitutions in your recipies. Ditch the kitchen timer sometimes and learn to tell when something is done by sight or feel. By letting go of your fear of failure you will learn to cook with your eyes, ears and nose instead of your recipes and measuring tools.
Thinking back to my husband’s birthday dinner. As dinner parties go, almost everything that could go wrong, did. However, once the fire in the grill was out…no one cared. I started with really good ingredients, and the meal was still tasty. We had a really fantastic evening with some friends that we love spending time with. It’s important to remember, that at the end of the day – that’s the whole point. We cook for the people we love, because we care about them and we want to sit down and share a meal together and connect.