Overcoming kitchen fears
For some reason we all love talking about kitchen disasters. And most of us seem to worry quite a bit about doing 'something wrong' when cooking. As one the best ways to overcome fears is to face them straight on, my question today is this: What is the worst that can happen in your kitchen? I mean, really?
A lot of things can go 'wrong': Food can be undercooked, overcooked, over-seasoned, under-seasoned, or the texture may be off (like, too dry, too sticky or too chewy). Things can splatter and scatter, or even escape the pot... And yes, food can get burned, too.
But the fact is this: These common kitchen 'disasters' are only minor, and most can be fixed: If undone, you can cook it a bit longer, you can tweak the seasoning, and boost the flavour, and correct the texture. Burned food cannot be undone, but let's be honest: this has nothing to do with cooking skills, this has something to do with getting distracted and not paying attention to what's cooking... (My tip: never cook on high heat unless you are watching like a hawk. Cooking on low and medium heat is a lot more forgiving.) Overcooking can't be reversed either but mushy veg or pasta are hardly the end of the world. Instead of beating yourself up, focus on the experience: cooking is a journey not a destination.
From the many conversations I have had about cooking, by far the most common problem going 'wrong' is simply bland, boring food. Which is a shame, but it's easily fixable, and hardly a real disaster.
As reader of this blog this doesn't need to happen to you: learn about the basics of flavour (here and here) and never cook bland again. Oh, and I just made a little cheat sheet for tweaking flavour too - get the free download here.
So what is it really, this obsession we have with kitchen disasters? Maybe we love talking about them because in reality they are harmless so it's easy to laugh about them?
Perhaps it is time to become more fearless in the kitchen. Time to be more curious and more daring. Because when we worry less cooking becomes more fun! Nothing terrible can happen, really. It's not rocket science. It's just dinner.