I never “learned” how to cook.
I don’t know when everyone else learned this, or what the hell I was doing then, but I missed that life lesson. I come from a large family, so almost always, dinner was done (or ordered, in the case of Pizza Night) by the time I got home from whatever extra-curricular activity I was involved in that particular season. Let’s all just accept this and move on.
Clearly, I can read, so of course I can follow a recipe. But following recipes…it’s like being the typical “book smart” kid. No common sense. For example, I can make taco seasoning, but when it’s just a little “off”? I could not even begin to tell you what to add to tweak it. It’s spicy, sure, but it doesn’t really have any FLAVOR. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my tacos to taste like my face is on fire, I want them to taste like tacos. TELL ME YOUR SECRETS, TACO BELL!
But I digress.
Obviously, I’m having a hard time with spices. I don’t know what they taste like well enough to know what would compliment any given recipe. Smelling them isn’t always helpful, and neither is tasting them. I’m not a huge fan of hot or spicy food, so I’m always afraid that I’m going to taste a spice and then have to cut my tongue off. I’ve got a cabinet full of spices, but I’ve only got like 5 or 7 go-to spices. None of which fix the damn taco seasoning.
As a new “cook” (I mean, let’s not kid ourselves) I am pretty easily intimidated – too many steps, one ridiculously difficult step, too many ingredients that I don’t have, one or more ingredients I’m completely unfamiliar with, techniques I have to Google and then YouTube, words I can’t pronounce, just thinking about all this is making me twitch. Don’t get me wrong, I managed to pull off Cornish hens with a port wine reduction. I had no idea what I was really doing, or if it would turn out. I just stuck to that recipe like I’d be in front of a firing squad if I didn’t. I was so stressed I couldn’t even EAT the meal I’d prepared. (My brother and sister-in-law both said it was good, and, more importantly, ate it.) But nothing, *NOTHING* infuriates me more than the phrase “season to taste”.
SEASON. TO. TASTE. Are you fucking kidding me?! Is this some kind of sick joke?? In WHAT dimension is it acceptable for the last direction of a recipe to be “eh, just do whatever the fuck you want”?! “Season to taste” is the ultimate Stephen King-ending to a recipe. “I worked so hard perfecting this, I just don’t have anything left for the end. Fuck it. ‘Season to taste’.” OH MY GOD. I HATE YOU.
Now, calm down. As I mentioned earlier, I am proficient with the Google machine. YES, I know what they MEAN is to add salt and pepper to adjust and perfect the final flavor of your dish. WHY NOT JUST SAY THAT? Or, better yet, list the 3-5 steps that make up “season to taste”. **Spoiler alert** Not all of us are kitchen gods. Help the newbies out, for fuck’s sake!
So there you have it. Today’s first world problem with Erin: Not enough direction in recipes.