Saturday, July 31, 2010

0 A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That.....

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Whether people realize it or not, the recipes on this blog are very carefully selected for their potential appeal or potential culinary challenges. :)

Admittedly, not all of the recipes here are for everybody. Some might even very well give people pause before they dip their toe in & convince themselves to take a risk, step into the unknown, & try something totally beyond their parameters. That is intentional. :)

After all, what is life without a little adventure? Yes, sometimes the point of this blog is to take people out of their culinary comfort zones.

For example, the previous recipe. :) Balsamic Strawberries with Sweet Ricotta Cream. I knew it was going to make some people stop and think, "Would this combination actually taste good?" And believe me, I'd had some initial reservations too. However, I'd previously watched a few cooking shows where professional chefs had used balsamic vinegar in desserts, so I'd had a bit more time to warm up to the idea. :) I thought to myself, "Who knows, it might actually be good!" And besides, it's just food; it's not like I'm not fire-walking here. :) What's the worst thing that could happen? That I don't like it?!" Pfffft, so what. Big freakin' deal. :)

So, to hedge my bets (& not waste food!), I decided to only make a little bit of it in my test kitchen. And you know what? It was surprisingly good. I didn't expect that. Had I chosen not to try it, I'd never have discovered this. I'd never have known. In fact, I would probably still be wondering right now whether or not I would like it. :) Instead of being a big chicken (Bock bock!) & playing it safe, I decided to take the opportunity to go for it, satisfy my curiosity, & expand my horizons.

Over the course of many years of cooking, my thoughts have not-so-surprisingly drifted into this other camp of thought. At some point, I gradually began to take more risks in the kitchen & push past my previous boundaries. (And when I say "risk," I'm not referring to potential kitchen fire hazards either. :) ) Like Gertrude Stein liked to say, "Everyone at first says 'No," and then, all of a sudden, they say 'Yes.' " In other words, it can often take a bit of time for people to get comfortable with new ideas.

There's a certain reward to that kind of adventure. Whatever the result, a person inevitably grows from the experience. If nothing else, new insights are gained -- not just new culinary knowledge, but also a certain, self-knowledge, in terms of culinary horizons & limits. :) We only find out where our boundaries truly lie by exploring them.

This is why I like to post new recipes that I (and possibly others) have never tried before. Recipes that challenge people's perceptions, parameters, & palates. :) It's not just an opportunity to try something new. It goes beyond that. It's an opportunity to learn, to shatter preconceived notions, to enjoy expanded concepts of oneself & the world around them.

If it isn't already obvious by now, I rarely choose the easiest or the safest path. As the expression goes, with the greatest risks also come the greatest rewards. Plus, there has to be a challenge in it somewhere or I'll quickly lose interest. :) Also, there has to be a newness or sense of discovery in it as well: To be honest, I'd become bored rather quickly if I limited myself to making only one type of cuisine (i.e., standard American fare) or dish; this has to be fun for me too. :) I want to make new dishes that I've never made or tasted before, from all over the globe, & also create completely new & original combinations & culinary concepts that no one has ever thought of doing before.

I find that the longer I cook, the more adventurous I become. :)

In order to balance out the adventure, I also post "old favorites" here too. Admittedly, there are days when we all just want to eat "comfort food," myself included.

Interestingly enough, one of the side effects of being adventurous over a prolonged period of time is that I now have an expanded definition of what "comfort food" actually is. :-D I've become comfortable making & eating a lot more types of dishes these days, and therefore realize that my definition of "comfort food" is probably a lot different from what others might find comforting. But I'm more than OK with that. :) To each their own. What might be old hat to me might be new to someone else, and vice versa.

So, I will gladly sprinkle this blog with a few comforting, classic dishes if it means that I can present some new ideas here too. :) To me, cooking for pleasure doesn't necessarily mean playing it safe. A lot of time I cook for the sheer adventure of it. I'm a culinary explorer, & so those of you who aren't accustomed to this might want to hang on tight. :)

Even so, most times, I try to make a point of posting recipes that are accessible to a large cross-section of individuals. Recipes that I think will appeal to a larger audience. That way, I figure that the ones who are less familiar with certain culinary combinations will hopefully overlook my occasional forays into the unknown. :) When I go off the map from time to time, you can bet that there'll usually be a "safe & comforting" recipe or two not far behind it. :)

This way, amidst the adventure & the unexpected, there'll also be enough recipes that are easy for people to wrap their heads -- and mouths (!) -- around. A little something for everybody. A little bit of this, a little bit of that. :)

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