Imperfection is beauty! The art of creative cooking
By guest blogger Vimal Sudarsan, Friend of VfL (Scotland)
One fine morning, I had a pleasant call from Jasmine from VfL. I’m a Friend of the charity, so we spent the call catching up and talking about how we could work more together to support older vegans and vegetarians. I told her about why I never use a recipe book, my experimental approach to cooking, and why I am reluctant to repeat the same meal twice. If this sounds interesting, get yourself a coffee or tea, put your feet up and take a few minutes to enjoy this blog!
Let’s forget about cooking for a minute. I’ve always enjoyed eating tasty, healthy meals. Don’t we all crave for one or another delicious flavour of food? As a start, it would be good to learn to identify what we like, why we like it, and know how to describe it better.
My favourite colour is red, and I like most shades of red. Similarly, the five basic tastes are sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami (savoury). For any polyglots who may have interest in Chinese cuisine, the Chinese call it suan (sour), tian (sweet), ku (bitter) and la (spicy). There is a rumour that Chinese chefs don’t like to invent fancy names for their dishes, instead preferring to describe it right. So they simply say ‘sweet and sour with vegetables’ or ‘hot and sweet chilli sauce’ etc... I think this makes so much sense and keeps things simple. So all you need to do is choose the vegetables you like, and tastes you like, and mix them. Some call it experimental cooking. I’d like to think of it as being practical and responding to your taste.
Recipes teach us ways of putting food together and treating vegetables. In my view, they are merely techniques and very much interoperable between cuisines from across the world. You could make an Indian dish with Chinese ingredients and call it 'Indo-Chinese’, or make an Italian dish with Indian ingredients and I'll let you pick a name for it. Do you know tofu? Have you tried cooking it? Until recently, I hadn't! So, I thought I'd make my own recipe. I saw a few videos online, went to the store and bought tofu, miso paste (again a new ingredient to me) and soy sauce, and put something together.
This was absolutely delicious, but I've never made it again. For multiple reasons, I don't like predictability, I'm adventurous and like to try new things all the time and – in any case – it may not turn out the same the next time. I believe taste has an intrinsic connection with your mood.
Once you start learning the art of responding to your taste, and learn to put things together (some call it cooking), you will naturally reduce repeating your meals, simply because you have a world of new ingredients you've never tried before. Have you tried making pak choi, the leafy cabbage-like vegetable? Try it and let us know how you get along.
This idea is born from the simple ethos, ‘Every Day is a New Day’. On that note, happy cooking! Eat well and stay healthy.
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