Tamar: Maybe we should touch on the idea of the professionalization of cooking. We go to restaurants and imagine that what we get is cooking. And that the alternative is premade. Kurt: There has been a move over the last two decades to make chefs into rock stars, and while I wanted to be a rock star when I was 15, I no longer do.
I like that the attention is beginning to shift toward the farmer, who after all is doing most of the hard work. The most obvious thing people could learn from the pros, though, is mise en place. Tamar: I am, again here, a little contrarian. Chefs are amazing, but a lot of what they do is organizational, and about the incredible difficulties in staying inspired while running a volatile organization — dealing with a million moving pieces and people with different needs, and equipment that breaks down.
Home cooks need to learn from skilled, grounded home cooks.
They can learn mise en place , but they get that from the Food Network. It stresses people out to think that they need to live up to that standard. Tamar : Exactly.
She wanted it to be approachable for home cooks, which made me really happy. This brings us to the difference between having an intimate knowledge of food versus fetishizing it.
Tamar: Bacon is a great example. Bacon is a sort of magic food, a little like olives, or anchovies, in that if you have a little, anything else you have seems special. If you have a tiny bit of bacon around, simple pasta with butter and cheese becomes a wonderful version of carbonara.
Or an egg, fried in [bacon] fat, seems rustic and hardy. If you have olives, you can make olive paste, which disguises the fact that other than that you only have toast. A couple of anchovies transform anything, from pasta, to salad, to stale bread.
Even into peanut butter! We manage to pervert the most useful things, and in so doing, lose the ability to really marshal them. Tamar: We need to rebind cooking to the sort of simple love we have for our pets and children, unbind it from passion and rebind it to tenderness. But I also believe traceability is vital — knowing the source of your food and shaking the hand that raised it when possible. Also understanding the importance of biodiversity — becoming aware that there is more than one kind of squash, or apple, or pig, and that we need there to be more than one kind.
It also helps to learn about food from as many different cultures as possible. Tamar: And part of it being important to you is knowing that it can be important without being everything. It can matter, but not matter to the exclusion of all else. In order for that to be true, we need to know how to cook, and the kinds of cooking that are not time-intensive and denatured — like the stuff on Top Chef or Iron Chef — but the quiche which uses leftovers.
How do we get the single mom in a trailer with four kids to read [your] book? Or at least to understand its ideas? We need skills classes to be affordable. We need to make cooking into the second part of food justice, and food sovereignty, and talk about feedings ourselves as something we deserve to be able to do. I really wanted Sam Kass and Michelle Obama to read the book, because I want to get the message to people who need it.
Tamar: That sounds wonderful. Kurt: Yes. To get the best bacon possible, follow the steps below. There you have it, the number one thing you need to buy to get the perfect piece of bacon is the humble cooling rack. Look, feel and live great while getting on the path to better health with the Eat This, Not That! This one trick will change the way you cook bacon in the oven forever.
By Cheyenne Buckingham March 11, Get the Latest Issue of Our Magazine. Buy the Issue. Cooking Tips.
Read This Next. The Latest Healthy Eating News.