You all know how to cook no? You decide what you want to do, you take the culinary book and follow step by step, isn't it that simple?
Well, that's not how it works for me. That's not what my mum taught me, and neither is it what my grandma taught to my mum.
Cooking is something huge for me, I would say food is something central in my life.
We all need food but some of us have lost the connection with it.
Today everybody feeds themselves... food has become "fast"... food has become something taken for granted. Often we eat because we are hungry, to satisfy our animal need to fill our stomachs.
In my culture, when we prepare our food and cook, we give time and our digestive system to lubricate, and to prepare for the work.
Cooking is fun because you mess up with food, and it is satisfying , because you see and enjoy the product of your work with other people.
Cooking for somebody I care, is for me, one of the most fulfilling thing I can do for myself.
Today, I do not want to explain to you how to flip omelettes or how to make bread, because if you wanna learn it, you'll figure out by yourselves, trying and failing, I would better like you understand the sense, and the art, of putting stuff together.
Here is how you can start.
After you have roughly decided what to do, go to the farmers market or the grocery store by foot, just to have the calm and the time to improve your plan and reflect on it. If you don't have time, good: open the fridge and start to pull out what you have.
Once you have the ingredient, put some music on, jazz and swing work for me, but I know people who do a better job with rock or opera, so you choose...
The preparation is the creative part, the recipe will form itself on its own, never following the plan, and if you are doing it correctly, you will always miss some of the ingredients and have too much of some others.
Don't follow any cooking time, continually taste whatever is in your pan or pot, trust your taste, burn your hands and tongue, add the spices you believe necessary... but never too much.
Never, never put too many ingredients. This is my only rule in the kitchen.
Keep it simple,
You don't have to create any new flavors - just wisely combine existing ones, picking between the thousands that Nature already provide you.
Famous Italian recipes for example, are made by only two ingredients, mozzarella and tomatoes, Parmesan and pears, walnuts and cheese.
Last thing, and the most important... sitting at the table, you should take some time to distinguish the different flavors in your plate, and than judge your creation.
The only way you can learn here is from your mistakes, and to be good you can only practice... then you have to develop a good sense of taste - eating slowly, mindfully and enjoying the food as most as you can.
Cooking the way I have been taught is a joy. It frees the mind because it is pure creativity.
Carlo was currently an exchange student at Morse High School in Bath, ME (Spring 2015). He is from a village south of Florence, Italy and loves to cook with his mom and grandma... he wrote this as an assignment for his teacher (Happier Outside friend, Danielle Young) and has granted us permission to publish this here.