Knowledge vs Experience vs Instinct (The Ultimate Mexican Stand-Off)


I’ve joked about this tons before so please forgive my redundancy but I still don’t know what I’m doing in the kitchen. I just had this conversation with Vinnie. He was attempting to be complimentary by saying that I DO know what I’m doing because the end product turns out okay. That’s not how it works though, is it? Haven’t I just gotten lucky that the people I’ve made food for aren’t picky and that garlic makes everything taste better? If I had followers, I’d ask for their answers to this question:

What do you think it means to know what you’re doing?
(In the kitchen, not in life… Unless, of course, you can come up with a clever answer that covers both!)

I’ve always thought that meant that I could look into the fridge, see what I had and know the best, most artistic way to put them all together so each flavor pops. You know, like they do on TV! As it turns out, the closest I come to that is seeing stuff in the fridge, remembering something I’ve eaten before that calls for similar ingredients, looking up the recipe for said dish, realizing I only have half the recipe’s ingredients, looking up a few other recipes that use methods that patch the holes in the original recipe, writing it all down and then ignoring it anyway because the chaos that comes along with me in the kitchen won’t allow for breaks to check if I’m even on the right step. Luckily my memory is a steal(ish) trap so I usually remember what to do but not when I’m supposed to do it. Which comes first, chaos or technical uncertainty? Thats some deep stuff right there.


Where was I? Chaos… perfect memory… oh! Knowing what to do. I don’t feel like I know what I’m doing. I feel like I go with my urges and I’m learning but it still can be really frustrating!! So when my lovely boyfriend argued that I do know what I’m doing, I got annoyed. If I knew what I was doing wouldn’t it be easier?? Wouldn’t I be better?

Let’s say that I have a culinary gift that I never knew of, another problem presents itself… We always have the exact same items in our fridge. I’m pretty certain we could walk all the way through Trader Joe’s with our eyes shut and only forget one or two things. This has never been a problem. Quite the opposite, actually. We know what we like, what will get eaten before it’s expiration and we’ve managed to whittle our grocery list down to just those things. The reason I bring this up now is that, although it would be awesome to look up a really nice, different kind of recipe that included something fancy like sage or… Uhh… I seriously can’t think of another “fancy” thing! Rosemary? They’re all herbs!! Doesn’t matter, I wouldn’t have it in-house anyway and although we live comfortably, it’s simply unrealistic for us to buy special ingredients for each meal. It’s far more cost effective to go to the market once or twice a week, make a couple dishes that will last a few nights and call it a day. Because of this, my recipe range has been limited and I plan to change that.
Maybe just once a week – and only if I find a recipe thats truly enticing – I’ll go to the store and get those fancy ingredients (probably just sage). I’ll come home and sip on a glass of wine while I prep the ingredients and then…
I’ll forget to look at the recipe, make something completely different and then tell you about it. Sound good?


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