Food scientists (or not)

And yet stuffing veg in a foil packet on the grill while cooking steaks or burgers or chicken is about as simple as cooking gets.

ETA: American definition of grill, not commercial or European.

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I just finished reading Jacques Pepin’s The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen. It was so interesting. I love watching his videos on YouTube.

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So true.

I cooked in a foil packet countless times before attempting en papillote in the French style. The alchemy that could be coaxed from thinly julienned vegetables, a pat of butter, a few parsley leaves, and a splash of white wine over a portion of fresh fish wasn’t obvious to me.

Same thing for Italian pasta sauces prepared quickly in the pan with some of the starchy pasta cooking water. I don’t have Italian heritage to draw on, so that simple technique wasn’t something I learned at home. I only knew about long-simmered tomato sauce with meat and rinsing—yeah, rinsing*—pasta with water before saucing. *Public service message: Don’t. Rinsing washes away the starch that lets the deliciousness stick to the pasta.

I read loads of different recipes and watched loads of cooking shows before I learned that the starchy water was the foundation of a quick pasta sauce. I was literally pouring the “secret” ingredient down the drain.

It’s the simple stuff that makes the cooking magic happen, I maintain.

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Chef Pepin’s memoir, The Apprentice, is a terrific book. While I had admired his cooking shows for decades, I knew little about his life until reading it. I now hold him in even higher esteem. On a different tack, probably available on Youtube, he once did a special with Itzhak Perlman, in which the topic was, broadly, creativity. Their interaction and insights are very worth a listen. Finally, I recommend to you the episode on him that was part of the PBS series, American Masters.

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He is still handsome, but there’s nobody as photogenic as Jacques in his early cooking shows. My late mother had a bit of a crush on him, though she was older than HIS mother, and so did I. Also, Mom never uttered a naughty word, but laughed every time he put something in the oven using a “cookie shit”.

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Jacques used to be a regular “guest” at various stalls at the Marin Farmers Market. He would present and promote produce in his singular (except perhaps Pepe le Pew) French accented English. i can only wonder at the quantities of esoteric veg graced tables those nights.

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Science!?

Note to self:

“It’s tempting to rush to Google Scholar and drive yourself even crazier with the conflicting results of 20 different studies, but here’s the most important truth about cooking vegetables: the best way to cook them is the way you’ll actually eat them.”

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It’s nice that my preferred way of cooking broccoli retains the most vitamins, but @shrinkrap’s point is critical: the nutrients on the plate make no difference if not eaten.

Still not a fan of microwaving much of anything as cooking but if that’s what it takes to get veg into you then fine.

It’s like exercise - the best kind is the one you do (consistently).

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold