All News & Blogs
Couples are learning techniques rather than recipes so they can improvise with ingredients that are on hand.
GARY FRIEDMAN/LOS ANGELES TIMES
View More Images from this story
Visit the Photo Place
BY RUSS PARSONS
LOS ANGELES TIMES
LOS ANGELES--Meghan and Carter are getting married. Like so many friends of my daughter, they are bright, funny and, sometimes, almost preternaturally serious. A couple of weeks ago, they asked my wife if we would talk to them about how to stay married--and about how to cook.
The first, I'll leave to Kathy; after almost 34 years, it's still a mystery to me. But the cooking part is right up my alley, and, even better, I figured it would give me a chance to try out some of the ideas I've been on a soapbox about for the last couple of years.
A basic knowledge of cooking--not the intricacies of fancy restaurant dishes or the parsing of various ethnic cuisines--seems to me to be fundamental to a happy life, whatever your relationship status. A good meal gives such great joy, why would you want to leave it to the hands of a stranger?
So Sunday night, Meghan and Carter came to the house for a cooking class. But instead of doing the usual thing and walking them through a couple of recipes, I wanted to try something different.
I love recipes as much as the next guy, but it does seem to me that they are an imperfect way to learn to cook.
Sure, a well-written recipe can teach you how to re-create a specific dish, but that's a different thing from actually knowing how to cook, isn't it?
What I wanted to try out was more along the lines of teaching the structure of a dish, how it is put together.
Rather than the details of a recipe, I wanted to see if I could teach them to prepare a dish by explaining its general outline, allowing for (even encouraging) the kind of freedom to experiment and personalize we all want to enjoy when we cook.
Instead of teaching them to make Marcella Hazan's roast chicken stuffed with lemon (a wonderful recipe, by the way), could I teach them how to roast a chicken?
If I could do that, they would learn dozens of dishes rather than just one.