What is the difference between my cooking and yours? Probably not much. I am not a gourmet chef; I don’t make foams or fine sauces and I don’t speak French. Well, I can order coffee and beer in French, but I can do that in German and Italian as well. I can even do that in England. So maybe my cooking may be influenced by a few of the places I have been and some of the tastes I have experienced. But I have the same resources and techniques as you. I have a stove and oven, grill and a few gadgets. I have a good knife and pots and pans. That’s it. Same as you, right?
I am not presuming that I make better food than you, but if for arguments sake let’s say I do, what makes the difference? It is not my gear or my experiences – everyone has some sorts of experiences – and the majority of us have the food network and the internet. There is no lack of resources. It comes down to one piece of the puzzle, but this might be the most important piece of the puzzle: the ingredients.
I grow herbs in pots outside of my kitchen. Anyone can do this quite easily. Fresh herbs add a depth of flavor and freshness that is unattainable by any other means. I have a vegetable garden where I mainly grow tomatoes and lettuces. Again, anyone can do this given a little sliver of ground. If you live in an apartment there are plots of communal land all over the place. It takes a little tiny bit of effort and hardly any cost. The benefits are well worth it and it makes you feel good to eat something that you have grown.
The rest of the food we eat comes from various sources that I have looked for and found. I don’t like to spend a lot of money so I always look for good prices as well as great food. We eat small portions of animal protein so I try to get the best cut of meat or the most tasty chicken. I know by trial and error who around me has the best and most affordable items. Sometimes I do go to three or four markets. I have found specialty markets for things like really amazing prosciutto or great cheese. I don’t do it often, but I prefer a little taste of an amazing cheese to a whole brick of yellow mystery cheese from the supermarket.
It is well worth the time to find the best ingredients in your area, keep up on what is in season and what food is local. Don’t go nuts, but a little field trip from time to time is fun and you never know your luck.
This is a wonderful dressing for pasta in the summertime. You can also add it to other sauces, on a baguette or on a sandwich. I added it to fresh tomatoes the other day for a lunchtime pasta.
- 2 Cups Basil, torn into pieces
- 1/2 Cup Olive Oil
- 4 Cloves Garlic, crushed
- 2 Tablespoons Walnuts, crushed or in pieces
- 1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
- 1/4 Cup Pecorino Cheese, grated
- Salt and Pepper
- Food Processor (or Mortar and Pestle)
- Chef’s Knife
- Put basil, garlic, walnuts and a pinch of salt in the food processor. If you have one and feel energetic you can do this by muddling all of it in a mortar and pestle.
- Add a stream of olive oil as you pulse the ingredients.
- Remove to mixing bowl and fold in the cheese.
- Salt and pepper to taste. You may not need anymore salt.