Gourmet cooking seems to be hopelessly beyond the reach of most of us. We are used to preparing a hurried meal for our families or carefully following the instructions in a recipe book when we have guests to dinner. Gourmet cooking seems to be the preserve of five star restaurants and top professional chefs who have access to the most luxurious ingredients.
But gourmet cooking can be achieved at home if you are willing to devote some time and attention to it. Gourmet cooking is essentially good cooking that uses the best ingredients and has a certain integrity to it.
Gourmet cooking can be simple food. Increasingly, even top restaurants are serving food that would once have been regarded as the food of poor people. But today when our palates are assaulted by some much processed food this kind of food has an authenticity that most of our diet lacks.
A simple meal of cheese sourced from a farm’s own dairy and hand made bread is a gourmet meal. A braised leg of spring lamb with minted new potatoes dug up only hours ago is a gourmet cooking.
Regional specialties cooked slowly with care and attention are gourmet cooking. When most food is fast food, slow food is gourmet food.
If gourmet cooking is about paying attention to ingredients it is also about paying attention to yourself. A gourmet cook must have integrity too. It is important to take pride in yourself. Hone your skills and always be prepared to learn more.
Books are useful. The best books are those that explain techniques rather than just give you recipes. It is your skill in technique that will make you a gourmet cook once you have good quality ingredients.
Some skills need to be learned from the experts. Consider enrolling on a course. A few days spent with a chef, a baker or a butcher will impart skills that cannot be picked up from a book. Not least working with a real artist in these trades will inspire you in your quest to become a gourmet cook.
Equipment is important to a gourmet cook. This doesn’t mean acquiring a battery of fancy gadgets. All you need are knives and pans but they should be of the best quality you can afford. That goes especially for knives and take care to keep them sharp. Have respect for your equipment and it will help you to become a gourmet cook.
If one word sums up what being a gourmet cook means it is that – respect. As a gourmet cook you must respect your ingredients, the skills of others, your diners, your equipment, and above all yourself. That is the only way to become a gourmet cook.