okay, perfect #11: fear of the new & Beet & Vanilla Stuffing
Just in time for the holidays, let's try something new. Also, HIGHLY recommend reading this while listening to Chris Nylund's new music 'Okay, Perfect' on Spotify. It's a nice pairing.
I wrote two weeks ago about the fact that I am in fact NOT a recipe-eschewer (I’m not, even though yes…I opened the first French technique inspired recipe-free cooking school, and maybe the first in the world. I can’t say that 150% with conviction because I do not speak all languages.)
I am simply not a believer that it is the best pedagogy when teaching cooking.
The result of this (and my sweet little show) is a series of not so nice messages purporting that I know diddly squat about cooking, cooking education, and that what we do is sophomoric. Including some very heated comments from big names in the food world. Some said directly to my inbox, and some filtered down to me.
I’m not one to address negative comments directly. BUT I want to say that when something new happens, in any industry, negativity is guaranteed.
(Why yes, I am wearing an evening gown in the kitchen! Because…Why not!)
Humans are deeply, instinctively programmed to fear…newness. It’s a part of our brains that is there to keep us safe. The difference in modern times is that we no longer need to be terrified of the new, the way we needed to be when we hunted and foraged in the wildness as early humans. New often meant immediate death. And once that newness was established as safe–to walk next to, play with, or eat–we no longer needed to fear it. So while we often no longer need to fear new, our brains haven’t evolved as fast as our living circumstances and way of beings. Which means…We still react negatively to the new, until there is proof that the new won’t do us harm.
The funny thing about the way in which some people respond to recipe-free cooking instruction is the way I might respond to a bobcat on a hiking trail. With abject fear. And I get it, it’s new. Building a pedagogy that explains deliciousness in way that helps all types of cooks is novel. And for some that is just ‘too much’.
I find this only lightly ironic that an industry that thrives on people trying new things, and knowing that teaching people to like new foods often requires work has such a deep seated OH DEAR GOD when it comes to the new-ness of what we do at The Courageous Cooking School, and how we do it.
Fun fact! Palettes require work. We teach palette development in our online classes, where we *gasp* pair a high-end wine with say…A Cooler Ranch Dorito. (Which by the way, is a GREAT little niblet of umami burst that it is a MARVELOUS way to discuss palettes and wine pairing).
(These photos are from my photoshoot with The Select7.)
The first time we try something new, our brains often struggle with interpreting the data that our tongues are sending to our brains. The smells are new, the tastes are new, and sometimes (okay…OFTEN) we need to revisit that ingredient, that thing, multiple times to even contemplate actually and deeply enjoying it. Sure the first time you might try anchovies you might find them vile, but overtime you can likely build up that anchovies are not in fact abject evil but tasty morsels of umami deliciousness.
The French school system knows this so innately, that they actually build palette development into their school lunch planning. Like…You’ll see each fruit, each cheese, each veggie multiple times a year on the lunch menus so that children learn to like diverse ingredients. (This is a far cry from square pizza being considered a vegetable due to it’s sauce).
The holidays are a perfect example of this fear of newness in practice too. We LOVE the historical dishes that our families make, and we have fear around changing them. Perhaps this isn’t the intricacies of our own holiday meals, but it sure as hell is mine!
One year, I decided to throw a thanksgiving for my extended family, and I wanted to do it my way. Which meant…a very different flavor profile. So I asked each person to bring their favorite dish their way, and I made all my favorite dishes my way. And I have to admit, it was my favorite holiday meal…ever. Because I got to play, AND everyone was thrilled.
And sometimes my version of the dish won folks over, and sometimes…The ‘classic’ did. I’ll never forget when one of my family members liked my Mac and cheese better than the one SHE made herself. The purported BEST Mac & Cheese she’s ever had in her life, was outshined by mine.d And that is the magic!
So if the “recipe-free way” resonates with you. Great!
If it doesn’t? Also, great!
To the food world?
*Cue green alien voice* ‘I come in peace’.
Because I do.
I, just like the rest of us, want people to cook more. Love more. Build skills that allow for deft in a farmers market, without having to google ‘what to make’ with that gorgeous haul they just lugged home. And be more in harmony with each other and the world around them. And for me? The way that supports making such things make sense is through supporting people to build recipe-free cooking skills.
As always, the recipes are behind the paywall. <3. Thanks for reading. In the spirit of trying new holiday dishes…Here’s a fun recipe I’ve been playing with.
Beat & Vanilla Bean Stuffing
Old Bread, about a pound, cubed into large crouton sized chunks a day ahead (enough that if you cube it, you can fill a casserole dish)
2 sticks of butter, room-ish temp
1 large yellow or white onion, diced
1 leek, whites only, thinly sliced
3 celery ribs, diced, AND OPTIONAL a tablespoon of the leaves chiffonnaded to mix into the stuffing
3 medium sized golden beets, diced
2-3 cups of Chicken Stock
Vanilla, 1/4 teaspoon of fresh vanilla bean paste OR 1/2 teaspoon powder/extract)
4-6 sage leaves, minced finely
Salt and Pepper
For garnish: 1/4 cup Pomegranate Seeds, 1/4 cup of toasted whole Pumpkin Seeds, and some crushed toasted Hazelnuts (if you have any)