Cooking Outside the Lines

Food Alchemy/Uncategorized

Cooking Outside the Lines

Will they compliment or contrast? How do we know what the end result will be? Will it all be a waste of effort? Nobody really knows. We just can’t be too sure. It’s unpredictable. Risky. There will always be the probability of perceived failure and success.

Will we set our kitchens or the world on fire? Will our taste buds revel? Our stomachs oblige? Will we be pleased with our creation? The only way to know for sure is to let experience be the best teacher. It’s about taking a few familiar flavors that you’ve never combined and putting them together to create something even more daring and delicious. It’s about delving into an unfamiliar space, a moment of uncertainty and coming out of it with a bold new creation, the ultimate culinary make-over. Think about some of your favorite foods and how you can put a twist on it.

The mash-up of global flavors has been gaining in popularity since 2008. So what’s all the noise about? It’s the sound of thickening and bubbling. It’s the slow simmer of diversity and the hum of birthing. It’s the celebration of global cuisine. And it continues to influence how we experience food. It pushes us beyond the limits of our norm and what we’re capable of. It may even peak our curiosity about how our brain registers the intricacies of flavors. It sparks our creativity, connects us to the greater whole, and expands our hearts. It feeds our spirit. It’s how a subjective process becomes a collective experience.

Even though hybrid foods, as some call it, crashed open with the cronut (crossaint-donut), chefs and home cooks, have been pushing the limits, and experimenting in search for the next new flavor long before it became the trend that it has. It’s organically what happens in the kitchen over time. The more we invest, the more we trust, the more we open to the unknown, the greater the chances that we will be satisfied with the end result and want to keep testing the limits. Chances are if we are pleased with the end result, someone else may be too.

What fast food can do real food can do better. In our home kitchens we can create mash up dishes and downplay ingredients like salt, sugar and fat. We can even choose healthier cooking methods that write our best story. The Doritos Locos Tacos (Taco Bell hybrid) will be put to shame.

When we do the mash up, there are no boundaries to what we can create with flavors from all over the world. I’ve learned that Jamaican Jerk and Asian flavors flow well and that the flavors of India and Ethiopian spices like, berere are a mighty duo. That forbidden rice, like the company of green peas paired with West African Spinach and agusi(roasted pumpkin seeds), that portabella mushrooms can jive with Japanese eggplant, that masala sauce mingles well with almost anything, and so on.

The only limitation is our own thoughts and ideas about what works and what doesn’t. Much of it based on our story, preferences and instruction, all of which are nothing more than ever changing variables. If we lean towards lessons…learn it and cycle back. There’s a whole taste of freedom to be explored and a world of flavor waiting to be unlocked.

If we ever need one, mashing it up is a license to choose our own colors and cook outside the lines.


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