Cooking Myth #5: This Dish Must Be Cooked This Way Only

July 10th, 2007 by Jeff in General Cooking

In the world of creativity, there is no room for the absolute. Being a creative process, cooking is no different. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard that I must cook dish X this way, and only this way, otherwise you don’t know what you are doing. If everyone followed along like this, then there would be very few ways to cook say, chicken for example.

Having a drink with my Aunt over vacation, she wanted me to have a try at this single malt scotch she received from a friend. I said OK, let me get a glass and some ice. Now she told me up and down that I must have it straight, no water as that is the only way to drink good scotch. Well, I basically said that I do not believe in such truisms. Enjoy things as you enjoy them, not as others. Could you imagine if we could only each ground beef as steak tartar? There would go the hamburger right there. In the end, I talked my Aunt into having it with ice, and I therefore enjoyed every minute of it.

I think the worst offenders are barbecue and chili cooks. They swear up and down that you can’t add say, tomatoes to chili for it to be “real chili” or you can’t add ketchup to a barbecue sauce for it to be “real barbecue sauce”. If I enjoy my chili and barbecue this way, then what is the problem? This attempt at purity is the opposite of what cooking should be about.

Now this isn’t to say that you shouldn’t try these “pure” methods, of course you should. In order to create, you need to experience many different preparations of similar ingredients. Limiting yourself to one method however is just wrong.

There are really no constants in cooking. There is more than one way to achieve an end. Don’t limit yourself to purism, your cooking will surely suffer.

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