Dark Matters

I’m tired of hearing “it’s a matter of taste.”

Is it? Or is bad taste one of those things — like porn, pain and excess — where you know it when you see it, when you feel it? I’ve been circling this question for years, and each turn is another uncomfortable opportunity to interrogate my certainties. I don’t have many. But in my brief adulthood I have armed myself with a few inflexible convictions on matters humble in scale — e.g. the perfect pizza temperature, the ideal noodle doneness, the barbarity of certain phrases (looking at you, “as well as.”)

Continue reading

In Defense of Shortcuts

I can be a pretty big snob when it comes to taking shortcuts in the kitchen.

Or, more accurately, not taking them. My kitchen is stocked with ingredients, with component parts. No supermarket sauces, no store-bought stock, no cheats. (Sriracha, Smoque BBQ sauce and Hellmann’s mayo I exclude from this.) This isn’t thanks to some puritanical, pseudo-scientific health kick. It’s just that I’m a bit of a control freak, and rather thrifty — and meals taste better and cost less when you make them from scratch. I won’t even use the slow cooker, fearing lack of control over the seasoning. For better or worse, this is the true north that has, till now, guided my value system as a cook.

Continue reading