Thursday, January 29, 2009

Heighten Five Senses: Taste

A sense of taste, like any other sense, can be developed. According to "The How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci Workbook" by Michael Gelb, you can self-assess your sense of taste through the following statements:
-- I can taste the "freshness" of fresh food.
-- I enjoy many different types of cuisine.
-- I seek out unusual taste experiences.
-- I can discern the flavor contributions of different herbs and spices in a complex dish.
-- I am a good cook.
-- I appreciate the pairing of food and wine.
-- I eat consciously, aware of the taste of my food.
-- I avoid junk food.
-- I avoid eating on the run.
-- I enjoy participating in taste tests and wine tastings.

No one becomes a good cook or an afficiando of the world's great cuisines overnight. Like first poems, your first attempts on the stove-top might likely end up in the trash can. Mine did for many years -- in both cases. I believe two elements you need to develop a keen sense of taste is a spirit of adventure and a willingness to make mistakes.It's the same as approaching any other creative aspect of your life, be it writing, skiing, cooking or traveling. You'll never know what octopus tastes like until you try it, or how ginger might enhance an apple dessert until you make one yourself.

I'm not a good enough cook to create my own recipes from scratch or just "throw things together." Maybe I'll be able to someday. I have, however, enough "taste" experience to imagine what a dish will taste like just from reading the recipe. So recipes and cookbooks are my friends. I sometimes cross reference two or three recipes for the same dish and make a hybrid of it, or simply "tweak" a recipe, usually because I lack a certain ingredient or two and would rather substitute with something I have on hand. It does take a little kitchen experience to know which items can suffice as substitutes. But it all comes with time, as does a seasoned palate.


No comments: