Cheaper never means better. Ever. You get what you pay for. And while we’re on clichés, Aristotle once said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Aristotle had no idea this quote would become a cliché. While he knew he was right, it’s hard to imagine him realizing the far-reaching implications and long shelf-life his words would have.
There are many pursuits in life where you’d certainly want to make Aristotle proud. Bringing together many elements to create something better than you’d imagined is simply awesome. We should aim to do it with making cars, building teams, creating music, and so much more. Including cooking. Quality ingredients in cooking are the vital components that can be crafted together to make something spectacular.
Think of Building a Home
When building a home, one would hope a person would choose good quality materials and take steps to ensure it’s constructed to the highest standards. It needs concrete blended perfectly for the conditions to make the foundation, it needs strong wood to build the frame, and it needs a roof that will last for decades. Put all these well-chosen items together and the house will be stronger in so many ways. However, if even one of these elements is inferior or done using shortcuts, the home will be no good and its value will suffer.
Aristotle’s words apply to home building and they sure apply to cooking.
The quest for the perfect dish is in many ways similar to building a house. Getting it just right takes time, planning, effort and perhaps most importantly, quality ingredients. It’s in that last part that so many potentially superb dishes fail. Have you ever heard of an outstanding dish being made using average ingredients or cheap substitutes?
Why Are the Best Considered the Best?
Why is ribeye regarded as better than flank steak? Cook it, cut it and taste it. It’s obvious. Which would you use when aiming to impress?
Why is Swiss chocolate better than American chocolate? Because the Swiss themselves use the best quality ingredients and a lot more real cocoa (not chemical substitutes). Which would make your baked goodies taste better?
Why do chefs personally choose meats, fish, fruits and vegetables at a market than at a grocery store? I promise you it’s not because they’re taught to be snobs. They know the flavors they want. They know what truly fresh and perfect ingredients look, feel and smell like. They know the importance of using good quality ingredients in creating their masterpieces.
They also know that if they choose lesser ingredients, they have no chance of achieving the key benchmarks that make their dishes so spectacular and sought after: aroma, flavor strength, flavor balance, texture, consistency, mouthfeel, moisture balance, tenderness, firmness, and so on.
Use the Best in Every Aspect of Cooking
Yes, the skill of the cook makes a difference, too. So be sure to learn everything you can. But without the right ingredients, there is very little that even the best chef in the world can do.
Then be sure you use the best quality utensils and kitchen tools you can get your hands on. They make life easier and they make cooking more enjoyable.
All this talk about quality ingredients in cooking is making me hungry. I’m off to the market and then the kitchen to make Aristotle proud.
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