Cooking by gut

Cooking by gut

Why I never use recipes

I love to cook. Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve been captivated by creating delicious food. But I grew up eating simple foods, prepared simply, intended to fuel.

My education in cooking is largely self-led via PBS shows from the 1990s and glossy, photo-heavy cookbooks I discovered in thrift stores. I wasn’t drawn to those with lots of words. It felt like work to read through all of the meticulous instructions and specific ingredient list and amounts. Instead, I looked at pictures and tried to recreate what I saw.

When I got a bit older and started working in high-end restaurants as a server and bartender, I hung out in the kitchen as much as I could and watched the chef and cooks with a thirsty mind. I saw just how long it takes to get a good sear on anything, and how much butter goes into everything.

Oh, and salt is life. Without it…well, I don’t want to think about that.

Today, I choose what I cook based on how I feel and what’s in season. In nearly all cases, I won’t look at a recipe. I think about how I want it to taste and look. And then I think about how to get those things. It’s a lot of thinking.

Those glossy cookbooks have been replaced by a variety of Instagram accounts that inspire me, but rarely will I go to the “link to recipe in bio” to get the details. I view the way I cook as a low-stakes exercise in creativity and problem solving. Flexing those mental muscles are important to me so when the stakes are high, I’m practiced at executing them. Cross-pollinating skills, if you will.


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