Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Sensual Cooking

A good dinner is a feast for the eyes and the palate. However to make that dish happen all five senses need to be employed.It may be sensuous but more than that it's necessary to create the perfect meal.

Julia Moskin wrote about this method in today's New York Times Food section.It's based on ASMR  or autonomous sensory meridian response.It is a newly defined sensory state that is a kind of pleasurable shivering or tingling that spreads along the scalp, upper back and shoulders in response to soothing repetitive sounds.Originally it  included  soft whispering, pages turning, or having one's hair brushed but now it has expanded to food. There are even videos that cater to this such as Silently Cooking and Peaceful Cuisine have no sounds - no how to voiceovers so home chefs can listen to "cooking sounds" like a knife's rasp against chocolate, a whisk whipping egg whites and the glug glug of olive oil being poured. Blind home chefs have been relying on this along with taste and texture.They know the difference between a boil and a hard boil along with the different feels of a rare and well done steaks. The mouth feel of pasta is important because it signifies when it's half cooked or done.Sadly there is nothing to help those with impaired taste and smell problems or anosmia.

How can we sharpen our senses to make for better cooking and baking? Ms Moskin gives a sidebar of tips that can home a home chef's senses. Notice the steady sizzle of  frying food in a skillet. Popping or uneven sounds mean's the heat's turned up too high. Practice picking up a teaspoon of salt in your fingertips so  you can accurately measure without measuring spoons.Listen to liquids as they cook to differentiate between what  simmering , boiling and hard boiling sound like.Also listen to cakes baking as famed Southern chef, Edna Lewis recommends Cakes make little bubbling and ticking sounds when they're in the process of being baked. Cookies need the sense of touch to determine if they're done. Touch their tops. They should feel crispy and crusty  - and not soft and dought. Silence means they're completely done.Use the blade of a small sharp knife to gauge when a fish is cooked. Slide it gently into the flesh and then press against your lips.It should feel pleasantly hot like a hot shower - not warm - and not scalding. Touch is very important when it comes to making a salad. Toss greens with your hands to make sure they're fluffy and cool. Any limp leaves should go back to the fridge for refreshing with a damp paper towel.

Cooking should be a sensual experience . To make that happen use all the senses - not just taste and smell. Listen. Touch . It'll make for a much better tasting meal.

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