Every recipe, every dish, every method of cooking food begins with an ABC; a doe, re, mi; a one, two, three. If that sounds infantile that’s because at its basics cooking really can be child’s-play. The only reason we do not entrust cooking to children is because it involves lots of sharp knives and hot stoves. Were it not for that we would probably get our children to cook supper for us more regularly since, at its basic, cooking really does not require anyone to be exceptionally gifted or skilled or wise or have a higher than average IQ. You may find that experience helps – but you only get that once you’ve tried.
Most recipes are variations on the basic methods listed below. They crop up time and again, which is why if you’re just starting out it is worth familiarising yourself with some of them and practising them until you feel happy you’ve got the right flavour, taste and texture combination you are comfortable with.
If at first you don’t succeed do not despair. Keep at it. Do not chastise yourself for being a bad cook. Everyone’s first attempt at a roux, like everyone’s first kiss, probably ended up feeling like gooey mess. By the third, if not the second, attempt you’ll have cracked it and come to enjoy it.
As Salvador Dali once said – have no fear of perfection, you’ll never achieve it. Just because your marinade or stock looks nothing like the beautiful pictures found in magazines, cook books or on television shows – it does not mean you failed. If you like the taste texture and flavour prepared by your own fair hand you’ll be a winner time and again.