This post might double as a “Reason For Why I Haven’t Posted In More Than a Week,” and it has to do mostly with travel. Both alternate titles, that is. I’m currently in Taipei, Taiwan, eating a breakfast of warm soymilk with a savory doughnut stick, and plotting my next victims of rapacious culinary tourism in order to compile an excess of recipes for a book I plan to write. (Yes! More on that to come!)
This brings me to a Reason of the Month that might seem contradictory to the cause: when you do eat out, you’ll feed your mind, too. Many have asked if I do eat out now, in the aftermath of two years of forging a strictly home-cooked way of life. I admit that yes, I do occasionally — and I enjoy treating those occasions as something to savor, a special occasion, indeed. It’s essentially the reason that I gave up the strict rule, aside from practical considerations. But when I do eat out, it’s different; it’s as mentally stimulating as it is physically.
Restaurants are a great feeding ground for ideas about ingredients, presentation, and cuisines. You might not be able to learn just how to produce a dish with step-by-step instructions, but then again, you can’t taste anything you read about in books, blogs or magazines. I don’t allow that it’s absolutely necessary in order to explore unfamiliar foods — that can be done in home environments, too — but it’s nonetheless an easy way to tap into new and exotic cuisines, especially when traveling.
When you know how to cook, you’ll be able to gauge what’s on your plate all the better, and reach new depths of appreciation for it (or the opposite). In fact, I don’t think anyone who comments about food in a restaurant can be in a very plum place to criticize if he or she never cooks for themselves. That’s like being a sportscaster and not knowing how to play the sport. The experience gleaned from so many times searing meat, or boiling eggs, or roasting carrots to caramelized perfection makes it easy to expand your repertoire and recreate dishes at home. Plus, it’s fun to contemplate all this while enjoying a restaurant meal.
So while I’m noshing on pig’s blood and stinky tofu snacks, just sit tight for some comprehensive recipe soon to come on those (ha, just kidding, I’ve got a keen eye on “stuff we like”). And I’m encouraged that all I’ve come to learn from cooking a lot will help bring them into good form in time. So, too, should you be on your next eating-out adventure — should you dare to deviate!