Tuesday, July 28, 2009

An extra note on shooting for delicious

(This is a footnote to the last post, as opposed to its sequel, which I have half-typed in preparedness for Thursday.)

I find it helpful to remember what so few food critics, professional and otherwise, seem to forget: taste is individual. If I make something that not everyone likes, well, that doesn't mean I am a bad cook or that it is a bad recipe. I TRY to find recipes that everyone likes-- I spend significant amounts of time in this endeavor-- but in the end, my "eaters" also have responsibilities: if they want to like their dinner, they should at least know what they like (you would be surprised...) and then they need to let me know their prefrences, not assuming that any decent cook is going to be able to mind-read. Also, if I like something and you don't (grapefruit, anyone?) I am truly not sad: that really does mean that there is more for me, which does make me happy.

Going back to the French Toast story: my current policy is that I do not knowingly fix any food that a person who will be eating it actively dislikes. (No, I have never had to cook for a picky four-year-old on a regular basis, so there is no way that I would put judgment on someone who did.) I often ask what people think of dinner-- yes, because I'm fishing for compliments (sometimes), but also because I want to know how a given recipe has gone over for a particular crowd. I am always looking for more recipes that have universal appeal, that are easy, cheap, and healthy, and also recipes which appeal to me personally. Most of the recipes I post on this blog are "universal appeal" recipes, though I also post recipes which have gotten a strong enough good reaction from a large enough number of people that I feel they will have high value to others.

I do NOT think that someone who doesn't take my approach (food=love) is a bad person, a bad mother (fathers tend not to worry about that sort of thing so much), or a bad cook. If one of my recipes flops, I don't feel like a bad person or a bad cook. Well, except for that time when I melted a hot pad so bad that it stank up the house for weeks and the soup turned out inedible, and then the very next night a pyrex pan exploded in my (hot-pad protected) hand because I stupidly tilted some water from one spot to another, extra-heated spot, but then I was worrying that it was my brain itself that was going bad on me, rather than that I as a whole was bad. But I didn't fret too much. A little failure is good for you: it keeps you humble and lets you know that you are pushing the boundaries of your abilities, which is generally a good thing.

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