The Expert Cook and the Adequate Cook

Once, when I was trying to cook, it occurred to me that while while it is hard work to gain expertise in cooking, it must be easy to be an adequate cook. Well, obviously, but my reasoning is more interesting than the conclusion.

The recipe for the typical dish specifies the ingredients and the methods with great precision. But the typical dish has evolved over hundreds of years through times and places that were less well-stocked thanthe present times. It follows then, that the path to the present-day dish must be littered with hundreds of other variations of this dish most of which lack, or contain less of, one or more ingredients; and must have been prepared by a slightly different method because it was cooked in a time with a different technology. Which is more, all those variations must be edible, because someone indeed ate them and survived.

I think there is a moral somewhere here… perhaps realising this will help us turn a better cook, because it will relieve us of the fear of failure. Or something.

6 thoughts on “The Expert Cook and the Adequate Cook

  1. Hi Ravi,

    Marvelous observation. I didn’t think about it in so precisely but that’s how I apply myself when cooking. I peruse through the recipe lightly, make a mental note of the ingredients and the process and then work out the dish on my own. There are so many variables and individual tastes that it’s impossible for the recipe to satisfy everyone.

  2. Hi Ravi,

    Marvelous observation. I didn’t think about it so precisely but that’s how I apply myself when cooking. I peruse through the recipe lightly, make a mental note of the ingredients and the process and then work out the dish on my own. There are so many variables and individual tastes that it’s impossible for the recipe to satisfy everyone.

  3. I think what you are trying to say is that the recipe function is stable with respect to local perturbations. I think that’s what you are trying to say because all this month I’ve been looking at perturbation analyses of portfolios, and getting something robust is bloody hard. Cooking, on the other hand, is often remarkably forgiving. Well, except that time when I overcooked the rice while chopping veggies, and ruined the veggies when preparing the masala. Then the wife waved her magic wand and all was edible again.

    If only the currency markets were equally forgiving too 🙂

  4. Completely agree with your conclusion. Reached it after a couple of days of cooking for myself (been at it for more than 15 months now), though without bothering about any reasoning.

    I think there is a moral somewhere here perhaps realising this will help us turn a better cook, because it will relieve us of the fear of failure. Or something.

    There is something far bigger than that here. Realizing this (the conclusion) would free men from the clutches of women. For far too long, women have kept a strict monopoly on the kitchen at home, making it look like cooking was something terribly difficult and they were doing a favour to the menfolk (example – the sitcom ‘King of Queens’ and suchlike).

    Down with the monopoly, I say. Get up and cook, men. You have nothing to lose but your tastebuds.

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