Saturday, January 06, 2007

If you can't take the heat

It was as if I’d grown up in a hotel, always eating food set before me. One evening I dreamed up a meal, but there was no one to ask for it.

So I went in through the doors where the food came out, and found a shining kitchen with ranks of surfaces and impenetrable implements, and the pantries full of mysterious raw materials.

I didn’t know frying from baking, and couldn’t recognize a grill. I couldn’t connect an egg to an omelet, or a clove of garlic to its taste. Flour looked nothing like bread, and what did one do with an onion?

Suddenly the kitchen was crowded with frenzied cooks, no time to explain, and in any case, just learning one station took years, who was this naïf who wanted to walk in and cook a menu?

Then I realized that there wasn’t one kitchen, but many – if I’d known their names, I would’ve recognized Asian, French, Indian, Italian – each with its own staff, techniques, and secret ingredients. If I wanted to apprentice myself, I’d have to pick one; but which, if any, could make the food I wanted?

This is what it feels like right now, trying to figure out how to make progress on the Hard Intangibles project.

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