Choosing the Key Ingredient(s)

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So many times people become complacent and overlook the key ingredients, or the care of choosing them, that are truly crucial to the success of a recipe. I’m not pointing fingers here, for I for one, am just as guilty. So I thought it would be a good idea to list a few guidelines:

  • Take time to carefully select quality ingredients.
  • Go out of your way to learn something about that ingredient.
  • When choosing, attentively assess and try to know what makes that particular ingredient special.
  • Observe it’s true essence, how it interacts, how it stands, and it’s true color and character.
  • Embrace its uniqueness and complexity.
  • Try to assess how that ingredient will add worth, react, influence, and/or change other ingredients in a positive way.
  • Try a wide range or variety of ingredients to add to the excitement and exchange of the recipe.
  • Be creative and try new combinations.
  • Go beyond your comfort zone and give the unknown a chance.
  • Monitor and gently guide these ingredients for overall success.
  • Observe compassionately so when a moment of trouble does occur, you can quickly help assist back to a successful outcome.
  • Even with careful planning and forethought, sometimes the ingredients in a recipe will take on a life all their own. So sit back, observe and revel in its unpredictability. Sometimes a deviation or mistake can have unexpected and glorious outcomes.

For those who have read to this point, I hope you have learned something. For those of you that have read to this point and think this author is pretentious or flaky, think again. The ingredient(s) that I have been describing are the friends and guest that you invite to your gatherings, or for the most part, your life.

A recipe is only a guide to a particular outcome. It is not set in stone and can always be adapted, as life often shows us. So do me a favor, when making plans for your next dinner or gathering, try some of the guidelines I have mentioned. After all, using only the choicest and carefully chosen ingredients, blended with care, will have a successful outcome that will be memorable and talked about for years to come.

Re: Choosing the Key Ingredient(s)

This is a great story, John. Thanks. One of the reasons why I enjoy shopping at smaller, specialist stores (as opposed to the large supermarket) is that you are more likely to find experts who can help with your culinary journey of discovery. Nowhere is this more critical, in my opinion than the butcher and fishmonger (spice shops too). It is a good idea to make friends with these guys. There is nothing more exciting to me than having a new catch suggested with advice on how to prepare it. Only last week I ate some louvar fish (I’d never even heard of this before) on the recommendation of my fishmonger. I was a bit nervous, but he told me exactly how best to prepare it. It was sensational.

Re: Choosing the Key Ingredient(s)