Whoever said, “a watched pot never boils” clearly does not know the joys of cooking. He or she does not understand the tiny miracles of science stirring in every pot, even before it boils. Never saw the blip of creation right as the first bubble formed against its side. It is like not having watched the sun set.
To watch how food cooks — this is why I cook; it’s what drew me first to the kitchen. It’s always lovely to see the end result on a plate, all prettily garnished and stylishly slicked with sauce. I suppose we could go on for the rest of our lives, our eyes being quite smugly satisfied with the sight of food always in this condition. Like a modern-day Tzar too noble to deign to peek into the grubby kitchen. But if you ask me, I’d much rather visit a five-star restaurant’s kitchen than sit down for a four-course meal in its dining room. I want to see where the real stuff happens. How it happens.
Is it just me, or are many more restaurants nowadays favoring an “open kitchen” plan, where you can actually watch prep cooks put together most of the touches on your meal. Yes, I’ve been to a small handful of restaurants in the past two months since ending the “not eating out all the time” regime. And one such dining room happened to have this set-up. This proved utterly distracting in the worst possible way. I could barely hold a conversation with my date without zoning out every now and then while watching a cook toss something in a saute pan, or blurting out what he was plating at the moment. Maybe it was sensory overload for a newbie, or born-again restaurant diner. But even when cooking in a room full of friends or family, I can be the same way. Apparently, the night I made the grape apple pie plus another pie (a pear and almond one that I felt came out so-so) for an A Razor, A Shiny Knife dinner, my friends got concerned that I had temporarily left the planet.
Not everyone has to suffer from this type of “urban zoning” to enjoy a more intimate relationship with their food. But I dare say that the conversation between person and the food he or she is cooking can occasionally be a lot more exciting than some person-to-person ones.
For anyone who aims to enrich their experience on this world by tasting every kind of food it has to offer, it is simply not enough. You have to chop it, stir it, then stand back and watch it carmelize. Touch it to know how far it’s been cooked through. Smell it to know when its juices have run. Hear it to know when its crust is browned. Then, only then, you will taste it completely.
Oh, and the pot does boil.