A world where it’s getting quite cloudy to find someone who understands and appreciates what they eat.
Why do dishes call for particular ingredients? What is tradition? Why is a dish called what it is?
It’s really quite simple, that a dish be named in a local language that everyone local understands. Though now with the range of products available and the knowledge that’s shared about here and there, I’d be able to cook up a dish from any corner of the world. Though I might not understand the true ordeal of the dish, I’d cook up a concoction that’s so different from the original that I’d be insulting the people who laid the groundwork for the authentic recipe. In my mind, I’ve cooked a fine replica of the original dish with ingredients being substituted and so on. Is it ethical to do so?
With each dish cooked about here and there, it truly is fascinating as to how the dish came out to be, from tarte tatin to Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte [commonly called the black forest gateaux]. The history lets you learn whether the dish is supposed to be rustic like a Cabonara or full of finesse like a Macaron.
Learning French seems like such a tough ordeal just as about learning any language is. Though learning the language makes so much sense since many culinary works I’m studying through are from France. For one it connects all these dots and makes understanding the dish even more better. I for one never knew that bouche meant mouth. And when I read up on ‘croquembouche’ which literally translates ‘crunch in the mouth’ it suddenly made absolute sense to me. I then connected it to amuse bouche which as Chandler[Friends-The one with the stoned guy] puts it, “it is amusing”.
Amuse gueule being the origin of amuse-bouche, gueule as the french term for animals mouth was considered quite foul. All this search for a bouche led me to find, “à bouche que veux-tu” which translates to “with a mouth that wants you” which is quite fascinating or rather tantalizing.
Another word choux helped me realize whether cabbage is involved or not, other than choux pastry which involves no cabbage but was named after it cause the piped and baked product resembled small cabbages. But in the case of choucroute garnie, it involves cabbage along with sausage and potatoes. The cabbage prepared similarly to sauerkraut as well as sausages being served would make anyone assume that it’s a dish from Germany if the name hadn’t said otherwise. From the Alsace region of France, Choucroute garnie definitey did take a leaf out of Germany’s manual to good food.
In India, the dishes are named quite simply offering a description of the dish. From rassam to gulab jamuns, dal tadka to mirch ka salan. It made me realize, [quite late obviously] that a dish from anywhere speaks about the people, their customs, and what’s available. Look at Italy, Portugal, France and Greece, who all have a few dishes boasting about olives, why? quite simply cause it’s grown there. Today making do with what’s available locally compared to using imported ingredients has faded. The use of canned products which were suitable during the periods of war has now become a sort of fashion.
It definitely is one thing to prepare a meal and a whole other world to know what was the reason a dish came out to be. The weightage of historical impact and conception of a particular dish plays a large role in finally presenting it for consumption. What started off as a hearty dish may be replaced by a cold replica of it in today’s world. It’s really amazing to eat something the way it was supposed to be. Our ancestors palates didn’t care if the dish didn’t seem sophisticated enough. To them, it was food needed to be consumed to keep healthy.
I was recently given the much coveted opportunity to attend a tasting menu prepared by the chef and while I’ll note the experience on another day, I was joined by a few people who weren’t as well informed as I expected them to be. One course on the menu featured smoked duck breasts, and trust me, it was absolutely brilliant. I took my time to savour it, but I was distracted for a second. My company seemed to think that the duck was chewy and tasted like rubber. It was a moment of absolute rage, since the servers were actually trying to figure out what went wrong, when there was absolutely nothing to fuss about. I promised them not to take the guy seriously since for one, I had cleaned my plate, having eaten smoked duck particularly many a time before, this serving was absolutely scrumptious. Secondly, I knew my company was not well informed, since he questioned many of the dishes that were served, starting with what an amuse bouche was. He was exactly like the kind of people who question pasta cooked al dente as to being raw and prefer it over done.
I like to appreciate a dish, the work put into cooking it, the ingredients, the chemical and physical changes that take place as well as any particular bit of history the dish might have. Some dishes even have a particular way to go about eating it, which is all the more fun.
It’s for an animal to swallow food, for us to appreciate it and dine.