Much like having the right facts and laws in prepartion for filing a brief, you need to start with the right ingredients in preparation for making a carefully constructed dish if you want a stellar final product.
Perhaps my view is a bit skewed, and I should divulge my biases up front. For me, food is one of the best ways to spend your hard earned money. If you get a few key ingredients such as a good extra virgin olive oil and quality spices, and always have the essentials on hand (i.e. garlic, onions, etc.) then you can whip up a decent meal any night of the week depending on what you’re in the mood for. Plus, with a strong home base of ingredients it gives you enough security to venture out slowly into uncharted territories or types of cuisine, without falling too flatly on your face. I will explain this theory in my Pad Thai post when I first had to use “tamarin” and let me tell you that was an adventure.
Also, it’s very important to cook with what’s fresh and in season. I learned this when I studied abroad in Italy, although I didn’t realize it until I got back to the states. You see when I was abroad I would go to the market everyday and cook whatever was fresh and on special.
My dishes were always bursting with flavor, and the leaving it up to fate of picking up what was in season helped push my creative limits as a cook.
For the average professional, shopping for groceries everyday is unrealistic. I know, I feel you. But if you make smart choices in your grocery selections, several ingredients can last you all week! Yes, it’s doable.
Best of all, if you live somewhere that will allow you to grow plants of your own, you can even grow your own ingredients. No pesticides, all natural!
Now I know what you’re thinking. G, I am a busy person, I don’t have time to grow my own ingredients! And you know what? You may be right. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to at least grow one thing to get yourself started. Herbs are an excellent place to start. When you’re only cooking for 1 or 2, sometimes buying a ton of parsley or basil at the market is just a waste of money because it ends up wilted in your fridge after a few days. Spend the same amount of money on a basil plant at say, Trader Joe’s, put it in a pot and water it, and you’ll have basil all summer.
I recently ventured into growing my own ingredients, and I have to admit, I’ve become quite addicted to it. You’ll see on this post some cherry tomatoes, basil, sierra lettuce, and shallots.
No matter where you get your ingredients, start with the right ones. The old saying goes, “only get drunk on good wine” and although it’s actual meaning has to do with mate selection, I think it applies here as well. If you’re going to get full, get full on good food! And good dishes require good ingredients.
Eat with all of your heart,