Like most of you, I’m a “do-it-yourself”…or at least a “try-it-yourself”…home chef. I love to cook and want to cook well. However, for most of us cooking does not come natural. We are not born with an innate sense of what flavors will joyously dace across our taste buds or how to hold a knife properly to avoid crushing a tomato, not to mention minimize the damages to ones fingers. These are learned skills which I’m sad to say many have not leaned. But have no fear, there is hope!
Over the last few years I have run across a shocking number of people who have not had kitchen-sense enough to boil an egg or make a box of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. They may have a post-graduate education but they can’t boil an egg! It makes me stop and wonder what their mothers actually taught them. Yet I have seen people go from a cook with no sense to a no nonsense cook. From hamburger helper to beef bourguignon!
There is a revival happing… a food revival! People may not know how to cook but they want to! There is something powerful drawing them to the mysterious way of the kitchen where food is transformed from fridge to table. There is a growing dissatisfaction with the drive-up window at the local fast-food joint which is being replaced by the longing for a homemade sit down dinner. We want to cook! We want to know what we are doing! And we want to do it well!
Historically mothers have been the source for all deeply rooted food traditions. In many cases they still are. Let’s give credit where credit is due. Our mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmother have brought us a long way. But they have only brought us so far… or maybe they have only brought us as far as we have allowed them to. Let face it. We really weren’t that good at paying attention and we lost interest really quickly. I have a trumpet, fiddle, and guitar I don’t know how to play which testify to this fact.
Now that we are older we wish we had stuck in there a little longer. Maybe if we had asked mom to walk us through a few more of those handwritten recipes we might now be able to deciphering what they say. Sadly we didn’t, and here we are. We are left with a hole in our culinary education… a missing link in our understanding of food preparation. So where do we turn now? How do we grow and explore the exciting world of tradition and culture through food?
For me there is only one choice, cookbooks! I have a love and fascination with cookbooks hence the name of this blog, The Paperback Chef. I love the stories, the history, and the adventure of opening a book and seeing if I can make what I cook look like the picture. You could pop onto the internet for a quick recipe or sit and watch the food network for a few hours but I choose cookbooks. Now don’t get me wrong. I love Alton Brown and Giada has some amazing recipes but, there is something different and more satisfying about working your way through a cookbook.
It is my love for cookbooks that is the inspiration behind this blog. I believe you can gain the knowledge, skill, and understanding necessary to be a great cook, even a great chef, from cookbooks. I have seen it happen! So to that end, I will be chronicling my adventures in cooking as I work my way through the wonderful world of cookbooks. From time to time I may bring in a family recipe or something amazing I saw on TV or the internet but my first inspiration will be cookbooks!