Have you ever eaten a perfect bite of food? Maybe a butter-soft slice of raw tuna swathed in avocado atop a plantain chip? Or perhaps a steaming hot spoonful of pho? Maybe you’ve got more of a sweet tooth, and what comes to mind for you is a crepe in a paper cone, bursting with strawberries and chocolate ganache, or an exquisite lemon tart blanketed in a yuzu meringue.
Food isn’t mere nourishment, and cooking and baking don’t have to be chores done to churn out
edible portions. Cooking and baking are art and science, creative and careful and utterly miraculous.
Take baking, for example. Perhaps you’re in the fall spirit and you’d like to make a pumpkin
apple loaf (https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/chunky-apple-pumpkin-bread). There’s a precision you cannot fake; if you ignore the recipe and add a tablespoon of baking soda rather than a teaspoon, you won’t get the right result. Try making crème brulee without the knowledge of the correct techniques, and you’ll end up with a pan full of scrambled eggs.
But on the other hand, there’s a creativity about cooking that you can’t do without either. You have to know what spices to add, how to balance flavor, what different types of heat will do to different foods. A lot of that relies on your own knowledge and training; the first step to becoming a good cook or baker is to eat good food. I’ve been lucky enough to grow up in a household where my dad taught me how to taste sauces and dishes from a young age.
“What does it need?” he always asks. Salt was always the easy answer, but sometimes it needed
more umami to balance the acidity, so it would need chicken stock, or maybe it was too creamy and
needed a squirt of lemon juice to brighten it up.
Food is often beautiful, too. My grandma taught me that. She makes the most beautiful desserts,
like chocolate eclairs with coffee drizzles or pavlova with lemon curd and berries. Many foods are
naturally vibrant because of spices or fresh fruits and vegetables; take advantage of that. Use fresh
herbs when you can, and your plate will instantly become brighter.
What does art do? It uses beauty to bring joy. Many arts are only available to one sense: you hear
music, or you see a painting. But the art of cooking or baking brings beauty to every sense. You can
hear the sizzle of meat in a pan, smell the warmth of sautéed onions, feel the sticky softness of bread
dough on your palms, and see the fluff of a perfectly baked potato. And of course, you can taste it. Taste
some good food. If you can’t help but smile, then you’ve experienced the art of cooking.
Sources: Taste of Home