Learning to cook has got to be one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Not because it has a lot of ways something can be done but simply put…its a chemistry exam on food. Each different thing that you can do to prepare something has its own reason for doing it. Do you know about the Maillard Reaction? What the hell is that?
Well, apparently, when sugars in the proteins we eat come into contact with high heat, it creates a reaction on the surface of the protein that actually enhances the flavor while it is cooking. Really? Now I know how tasty meat can be when it is cooked to a golden brown but I never thought that that was an actual method of preparation, so to speak.
Now this brings up a very important thought that needed to be discussed. If people have been around for thousands of years, what did people do with proteins to prepare them for eating before the creation of fire? I watched a show one time that was based on the four forms of preparing food: water, fire, earth, and air. I have already brought two forms of preparing foods: fire and earth. Fire is self explanatory but earth is a little more confusing. I thought the concept was intriguing and I had to watch.
Preparing food with water is simply boiling your food until it is cooked. No surprise there. We have been doing this for a very long time. But did you know that preparing food with fire needs to happen first before anyone can cook in water? Once we learned how to make fire, it open up a whole new way of appreciating food. Cooking with fire is what introduced the Maillard Reaction. The transformation of amino acids in the proteins to these awesome brown bits of bliss. What could be better than that?
Cooking by earth is a little more complicated. The refers to fermentation and the natural transformation that occurs when you allow microbes to have free access to your foods. This form of preparation is very important to keep tummy in check and keep your gut flora from causing havoc. Examples of fermentation are yogurts, kimchi, sauerkraut, and sourdough bread. The world discovered fermentation when a bowl of wet flour was accidentally left out and it began to bubble.
The last form of preparation is cooking by air. Heat in the air can cook foods as well. Just as we begin to learn to cook with fire, we learn to cook with air. It is as easy as putting the bun in the oven. Today ovens can cook almost anything with air. The confection oven can do it even better. If only I could remember if it was the temperature or the time that needs to be decreased when cooking with convection…and this I still haven’t figured out. And all i have to do is look it up (again with the Lazy Cook).
With all of these things to remember, no wonder I never learned to cook…its like taking up a second language.