For the love of food.

It's been *gulp* a while since I've posted here, but I've been spurred into action by the idiotic lexicon of love surrounding cooking which has sprouted up in the miasma that is post-Masterchef Australia.

"Ultimately though does Poh have the passion?"

"He is a self taught cook who is committed and dedicated to good honest food."

"I love home cooking and would visit Julie's restaurant. .... I love real honest food and that is the way Julie cooks."

What is this weird idea that passion and honesty have anything to do with the way food tastes? Is it the way into the idea that anyone with a dream in their hearts and a twinkle in their eye can make a wonderful chef? It's bollocks. Because...

1. Cooking is science, not love.

You experiment. You follow a formula. You use specialised tools. You stray from the formula to produce new results. You test. You fail. You go back to the drawing board. You try something else. You get better at anticipating the results. This is how cooking works and improves. No matter how much 'love' is in your heart, you have to put in the work. Love alone is not some sort of weird food X factor no matter how you spin it.

2. Food is neither honest nor dishonest.

When's the last time you got deceived by a plate of gnocchi? If honest means 'delicious' or 'homestyle' then why not say that?

3. Bloody minded determination beats "passion" 10 out of 10 times.

Passion is better described as drive, ambition, determination, hunger... basically words which sound too mercenary to evoke the floaty dreamy idea that anyone can be a brilliant chef.

In my opinion to be a good cook

  1. you have to really like to eat (or failing this you have to have a strong desire to feed people or be praised for your culinary efforts)
  2. you have to have a keen palette to distinguish various flavours
  3. you can't be easily discouraged
  4. you have to have good time management skills
  5. you have to be prepared to fail and learn from your mistakes - you get better and make less mistakes as time goes on.

It's so unpalatable to say that you have to work and work and work - better to say that it's a matter of the heart. Almost anyone can be a reasonable cook, but passion, love, honesty are not required. No one ever says Thorpey won five Olympic gold medals because he has a passion for swimming. Because it's idiotic.


    I get it - I write belligerent things every now and then too.

    But dishonest cooking is impostor cooking - bad substitutions, and an attempt to use the guest's assumed lack of sophistication to your advantage. Maybe it tries to hide processed ingredients and pass them off as scratch. It's so easy to see. And everyone who reads this post knows that you see it too.

    Half-assing is the opposite of passion. Perhaps there has been a distortion of the idea of "love" in cooking, but clearly "love" in this context indicates an attention to detail related to all aspects of a meal. Not a disregard for the science and experimentation that goes on.

    I shouldn't take the bait: obviously this is a post written to be controversial. Perhaps marketable. Maybe the truly nauseating event in the world of food is bloggers who disingenuously split linguistic hairs as a way to differentiate themselves from the less cynical. Ho hum.

    Except I grew up playing jazz and working hard to run the scales and play through the real book, and there was this jack ass across town - the pied piper - who stole my friends and told them to stop practicing and play from the heart. They all had to catch up. Maybe that's what you're bitching about. Picasso mastered his own sort of realism before he invented cubism...


    interesting point about the rhetoric around food...similar to the rhetoric often used on a certain American cooking reality show.
    But 'cooking from the soul' sounds more like it would result in something I'd want to eat than 'honest cooking'.
    Not sure I'd pick an item off a menu that had 'Honest' next to it. 'good honest spaghetti' sounds almost apologetic.


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