About canned food, rediscovered potatoes and top restaurateurs at work
I am able to create my own recipes and cooking or baking ideas, but I am not a trained, professional cook. That is why I shamelessly and gladly steal from those who are. Whenever I browse through blogs of professional or other amateur cooks and read cookbooks, I notice: most of successful cooks, cookbook authors or restaurateurs look back on a childhood with special food and traditions: big family gatherings with loads of prepared and brought food. The daily shared meal at least once a day. Summer holiday weeks abroad and characteristic dishes of certain regions.
In my childhood, no traditions were passed on. We never cooked and hardly ate together and the value of food never was conciliated. I developed my own idea of cooking much later - it means love, friends, hospitality and fun.
A typical lunch for me as a student: the night before, my mother peeled some potatoes. They were sitting in a pot with water on the stove overnight. The next day I was supposed to salt the water, cook them and to warm up the contents of some can to go with them.
After leaving home early, I did not touch any potato for four years. I was so fed up with potatoes ... Then a friend asked me to help her relatives on their potatoe farm. After a long day of harvesting, all the dirty and exhausted helpers were the first "customers" to enjoy the new potatoes right there on the field: scrubbed thoroughly under running water so that there was hardly any peel left, cooked and topped with pinch of butter and salt or cottage cheese with fresh chives. It dawned on me then: I wanted to know more about food and nutrition. About fruits and vegetables. I had a sore back, sore knees for days, sore muscles in my thighs and torn, dirty hands - and a new respect for the product. How about - at least trying to cook? As every journey, this one started with very small steps.
In the meantime I had learned: There are mushrooms other than canned ones! My first fresh mushrooms: quartered, browned in butter on mild heat with an onion - I did not think of salt and pepper at the time. I had parsley, but no knife to chop it. I picked the leaves and generously scattered them over my work. The first bite was a bit disappointing. Something was missing - salt! But then it was good and I was really proud. With this simple thing I felt as if I had just invented the fire AND the wheel. My first, positive cooking experience in my early 20s, in a furnished rented room with just a hotplate, my first own pan and the little radio that filled my furnished days with music. I had no plan, but a bit of a hunch.
Everyone can cook
No one taught me to cook, showed me how to prepare fresh beetroot or a bechamel sauce. At my first try, I could not believe how easy it was to prepare fresh green beans - I only knew the frozen ones!
In my childhood there were no baking afternoons, not even during Easter or Christmas season. Though no foundations had been laid, I really like to bake today. I enjoy coming up with new muffin ideas and the fitting kitchen soundtrack, while I mix the dough. Because, everything would be nothing without music.
Professionally, I started as a freelanced journalist and ended up as a communication and PR consultant. I passionately coordinated and directed events, from the largest congress to the smallest press conference.
The job came with an amuse gueule: I was able to watch top-level chefs and their brigades at work, often for many consecutive days. To have those professionals shown me how to cut onions or peppers, explaining, why the spices are roasted before every other ingredient and why cubes of butter are in the freezer, watching them preparing vegetables and to look over the Rôtisseur's shoulder during meat preparation - priceless!
I thank everyone who was generous, patient and open to a curious event manager who loves to eat, wanted to try everything and sometimes got in the way. I've learned: kitchen work is team work. And the best chefs respect the dishwashers and the sous chef alike. And it is true: If you cannot stand the heat you should not work in the kitchen. At least not in a professional kitchen and not in the presence of a heated brigade.
In my kitchen, at my table and here on my little blog it is so much easier: Welcome! I hope you enjoy it. Which music would you like to hear?