“If you want to become a great chef, you have to work with great chefs. And that’s exactly what I did.”
This beautiful quote by the legendary food connoisseur Gordon Ramsay inspired me to start cooking for myself. As a 20 year old college student, I’m pretty easily inspired, but unfortunately I don’t exactly have an unlimited supply of “great chefs” to surround myself with, like the genius Mr. Ramsay.
However, I do watch the Food Network a lot, and I learned quite a bit from Disney/Pixar’s Ratatouille.
“Anyone can cook!” Damn right anyone can cook
I was watching the episode of Duck Dynasty where Jess, Miss Kay, and Phil go and sell boudin out of a food truck. The whole creole/Louisiana/Cajun theme got me in the mood for boudin and jambalaya, so I headed to the trusty Wal-Mart and gathered some ingredients.
Boudin – (noun.) pronounced like “BOO-DAN.” A food similar to sausage, but more fun to say.
My experience started out rough. A little bit of oil, a pan that was too hot, and a whole lot of smoke dampened my spirits, but like the true American I am, I pressed on. I wish I could tell you a tale of burnt food, a few good scars, and some terrible nutrition, but unfortunately that is not where this story goes. Why? Because literally anybody can cook.
When I was a little tyke in kindergarten or pre-school or something, I remember hearing “just follow the directions.” I don’t know at what point in our lives we decide that we can do things on our own and stop following directions, but I held onto the notion that directions exist for a reason, and they’re beautiful. So I follow them like a true gentleman should. If you follow the directions when cooking, you can’t go wrong.
Don’t let a lack of resources stop you from following your culinary dreams. I got chicken breast for my jambalaya and the package said “use a food thermometer and cook the chicken until it is 170 degrees.” Well I didn’t have a food thermometer, nor did I have any inclination to go buy one. I’m a smart kid, and the medical technology we have in the 21st century is incredible. Worst-case scenario, the chicken is undercooked, I sit on the toilet for a few days, have my stomach pumped, and then try it over again. It’s foolproof, right?
Now I wish I could tell you a story about me getting sick, but I can’t. Because again, literally anybody can cook. I didn’t get food poisoning, and I still don’t have a food thermometer. But I do have a beautiful pot full of golden brown jambalaya and boudin.
There are some things that are seriously hard to cook, like ratatouille, soufflés, and eggs over easy. But other than those delicacies, everything else is pretty self explanatory and basic. I decided I was always going to cook my own food from now on instead of eating out at Cane’s all the time or heating up a frozen pizza, so I made room in my budget to buy ingredients each month and I got to work, and WOW was it a good choice (not to mention, it’s also absurdly cheaper).
Cooking is healthier than the aforementioned options. No longer will my cholesterol skyrocket due to high fructose corn syrup or other weird preservatives. I love being healthy, but I’m not a “no GMO no gluten no meat” kind of person. I just don’t eat things that are blatantly terrible for you.
Brief hiatus from the main idea: WARNING. IF YOU DON’T LIKE HEARING THINGS THAT YOU NEED TO BE TOLD, SKIP THIS SECTION.
If you hear someone who claims to be gluten-free, or vegetarian, or vegan, or something else that you think is weird, don’t be a turd and call them out on it. First of all, a lot of people are gluten-free because there’s this thing called celiac disease that causes people to not be able to eat gluten. But even if they don’t have a medical reason for making the food choices that they do, WHO CARES? Just because you don’t understand it doesn’t mean you can’t accept it. Let people be who they want to be. That goes for food choices, political views, sexual orientations, and really everything else in life.
Rule #1: Treat others how you want to be treated. (read:“mind your own business and don’t be a cynical jerk”)
Actually while I’m at it, I should probably touch on the whole “women belong in the kitchen thing.” If you adhere to this strange, sexist rule, then I politely remind you that it is 2015, not the 1600s.
Furthermore, men belong in the kitchen too because food is delicious and anyone can cook.
Cast away all your gross sexist notions and stereotypes. It’s weird and I am embarrassed for you.
OKAY THE HIATUS IS OVER. Back to cooking!
I touched on this briefly in one of my previous posts: people of the opposite gender love when you cook for them. Especially when you’re a college guy. They’ll be like, “oh my goodness when did you learn how to cook!?” when all I did was heat up some frozen vegetables on the stove. It’s because nobody cooks anymore, and it’s truly depressing. When you hear your uncle say “this world is headed to shit! Things aren’t the way they used to be anymore!” He’s talking about the fact that less and less people are cooking their own food.
This isn’t to disrespect people who actually cook for a living, like Gordon Ramsay and Emeril Lagasse, because there is a huge gap between them and me. If you want to actually learn how to do things like cook incredible foods, open a restaurant, or bake cakes that are cool as hell, then you need to go to culinary school. But if you’re just trying to be healthy or save some money, cooking yourself a beautifully crafted dinner every once in a while is a good start.
If you want to live a life full of high fructose corn syrup, artificial preservatives, and high cholesterol, then follow your dreams. But for all of you who are sensible and plan on living to be 100, look up some recipes for boudin and jambalaya and get to the kitchen!