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Maybe This Is Why We (I) (She?) Cook With Authenticity


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Nope, it's not to one-up anyone.

It's for this reason:

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Home cooks often tweak dishes, but hewing tightly to instructions can help us better understand others and their cuisines and cultures.

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The obvious benefits are eating something delicious and learning something new, not as an armchair traveler or restaurant diner but as an active participant. The more nuanced reward is challenging my culinary framework, to keep moving toward a more expansive and equitable worldview. And my hope is that this form of cooking with empathy, if enough people adopt it, can lead to greater unity and understanding even beyond the kitchen.

A Kitchen Resolution Worth Making: Follow the Recipe Exactly

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this is a wrong-headed article. find out why.

It's more than just finding a place to buy stuff. For example, if I got 100g of uni, it would spoil before I could eat it all, and no one's gonna ship me 15g, which is probably all I can eat at one ti

Nope, it's not to one-up anyone. It's for this reason: A Kitchen Resolution Worth Making: Follow the Recipe Exactly

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I actually find Twitter to be quite wrong headed. Certainly shouldn’t be used to disseminate such important information. I don’t know anyone with such an important title as yours using it for such things.

 

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2 hours ago, mongo_jones said:

this is a wrong-headed article. find out why.

Yup.

I think the author's background (good housekeeping test kitchen, "build a better...", etc.) might make her believe people "tweak" recipes far more extensively than they do. 

 

eta: but I did report you to the FBI for that "pressure cooker" outside

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OK, here's a question for all you "authenticity" guys.

I'm returning to Erotic Beef tonight.  The Tokyo chef who created the dish says its "secret ingredient" is the Sichuan chili/fermented broad bean paste doubanjiang.

So I have a bottle of doubanjiang made in Sichuan, and another bottle made in Japan.

Which should I use?  (The chef gives no clue where his comes from.)

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Try them and see which one you like best? I imagine the Japanese one will be milder and probably sweeter, as with Japanese kimchi, but otherwise they should be similar.

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In matters of erotic beef there can be no dispute.

And yes, that sentence about beans was funny, but I read that the cool kids brine their beans now, so who knows.

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I also have to say that, Ko's disclaimer notwithstanding, there is an element of airmchair travel -- worse, cultural appropriation -- at play here (although not as much in the article as the headline and subhead suggest there will be).

I think of the restaurant Rosetta in Mexico City.  Everybody loves it.  What they do there is, they cook Italian food, but with Mexican ingredients.  It isn't "fusion":  it's Italian food cooked with Mexican ingredients.  (Yeah, I'ma keep repeating that.)  Which seems to me to be totally "authentic".  Even though, yeah, it doesn't taste just like Italian food.  It tastes like (wait for it) Italian food made with Mexican ingredients.

Now maybe this seems "authentic" to us here because Mexico is "foreign" too, so its "authenticity" just gets heaped onto Italian food's "authenticity", as opposed to detracting from "authenticity" as people like me get accused of doing when when we swap in available local ingredients for exotic ones in "foreign" dishes in the Northeastern U.S.

But also, maybe it's because Mexico, unlike the Northeastern U.S., actually has a deep food culture.  So people there don't get worried when their food culture inserts itself into "foreign" cooking.  They're (justifiably) proud of their local food in a way we (justifiably) aren't.

I also think about Ilan Stavans's wonderful book about Jewish culture (including cooking) in Latin America, The Seventh Heaven.  I'm especially taken with the adaptations Ashkenazic Jews -- my people, whose cooking I know intimately -- made of local flavors, ingredients, and techniques.  Now, I suppose you could argue that that's different, because that's a case of cooks within a tradition adapting their own cuisine to local conditions.  But I continue to think that if you're a cook, you're an active participant in the creation of your food, no matter where it comes from.

This doesn't mean that I don't think you should learn foreign flavor profiles and techniques.  I just don't think recipes are sacrosanct, or that "authenticity" is all that important a goal in home cooking.  And while it's fun to do so -- I enjoy doing it myself -- I don't think there's an absolute obligation to chase down exotic ingredients instead of using the most equivalent local ones you can find.  (Once again:  I'm cooking dinner, not preparing a museum exhibition.)

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Also, I think Ko often sets up straw men to knock them down.

OF COURSE if a recipe calls for caramelized onions you shouldn't sweat them instead.  You don't change elements of a recipe that seriously affect flavor and texture just because you're used to doing things a different way.*  But that doesn't mean you can't use scallion instead of ishikura if you're cooking a Japanese dish in New York.

But if THAT'S all she's saying, then she doesn't have to add all that stuff about appropriating (oops, "understanding") other cultures.  That's something else entirely.

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* But what experienced, much less trained, cook would sweat an onion in a dish that would benefit from caramelized ones, as Ko suggests she'd habitually done -- whatever the dish's provenance?

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yes, this is a very liberal, american train of thought. in india, for example, the food of other cultures gets indianized without a second thought and no one worries that they are not learning about america by putting tandoori chicken on doughy pizza.

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