Thursday, September 9, 2010

Flavor Purism

Just another internal contradiction.

One voice inside of me is obsessed with purity of flavor. Some preparations, at least those that bear the name of a single ingredient, like 'apple puree' or 'chicken stock,' should taste like the concentrated essence of that ingredient, unsullied by other flavors. I want chicken stock to taste more like chicken-y than chicken does, and apple puree to punch me in the mouth with its clarity and force. Flavor enhancers are acceptable: salt, acid, spiciness, MSG are all fine by me. But ingredients that add their own flavors can bother me. I am always hesitant to add mirepoix to my stocks. I don't think a vegetable soup should be made with chicken, or even vegetable, stock. Black pepper has its own flavor: nix it. I am always most impressed when a flavor shocks me with its purity.

On the other side of my brain is a love of dishes with complex, even muddled, flavors. Braises, stews, curries. I love all of them, and I'm much better at making them and other rustic fare than at making clear, simple, bright preparations. Maybe the more complex preparations are inherently easier, or maybe it's just my lack of experience with the others. I've given up choosing one philosophy over the other, but I'm still searching for a balance, or a harmony.

1 comment:

  1. I forgot to tell you, but I loved that peach/cinnamon sauce.