Kitchen as laboratory


When I first started cooking, I followed every recipe to the gram. Not trusting myself, I would cling to each measurement and instruction. But I highly doubt that a love of cooking could have developed if I’d stayed that way for long.

Instead, I started chucking ingredients in with the enthusiasm I’d always admired in other cooks.

I disobeyed the recipes.

I made adjustments and subtitutions, approximations, rounded up and down depending on what I had in the cupboard. It’s a kind of recklessness I’d like to have in all areas of my life, if I were more impulsive.

Major decisions are thought through, talked through, and often written down as well. It’s the reason I didn’t book accommodation in advance when I was travelling; I didn’t want to give myself the chance to over think it. Even this type of spontaneity was pre-planned.

But with cooking, I am free. If I like an idea (lamb and onion in sweet potatoes, chocolate flan, recipes without names), I can start immediately. Half an hour later and I will have something.

The quality does not matter – ideally it will be tasty, or at least edible – but sometimes these experiments do not go well. Sometimes I am hungry or disappointed or frustrated. That’s okay. I’ll find something else to eat, and try again the next time.

It may not be the most effective way to learn to cook, but it’s done wonders for my culinary confidence, and is certainly fun.