There are two activities in life in which we can lovingly and carefully put something inside of someone we love. Cooking is the one we can do three times a day for the rest of our lives, without pills. In both activities, practice makes perfect.
The tradition of Italian cooking is that of the matriarch. This is the cooking of grandma. She didn't waste time thinking too much about the celery. She got the best celery she could and then she dealt with it.
When I was a child, our whole family cooked. All my cousins cooked. All my aunts and uncles cooked. It was part of our heritage.
The objective.. is to achieve a comfort level between the cook/artist/performer and the customer/viewer/diner. And if we can achieve that, and the customers are happy and the cooks are happy, then we have a great experience.
I can tell in two minutes if I should hire someone in the kitchen. Two minutes. It's his desire. It's that open-eyed, attentive expression. If he doesn't have it ... I mean, I can teach a chimp how to cook dinner. But I cannot teach a chimp how to love it.
The very common error of young or unconfident cooks is to keep putting more of their own personal ideology into a plate until there's so much noise that you really can't even hear a tune. You can say more in an empty space than you can in a crowded one.
I just signed to do my next book with Ecco Press, a new primer or encyclopedia. This will be my take on what classic Italian cooking is.
Larousse Gastronomique is a veritable dictionary of cooking terms for the French kitchen. If a chef were allowed only one book, this would have to be it.
In growing up in Seattle, I don't know a single family that didn't barbecue or cook on the weekends and make its own kind of simple, pared-down, what I call Pacific Northwest cooking.
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