There are, in my estimation, only two ways to cook: slowly or really fast. Every other way is wasted on me. I love meals that can be thrown into one large pot, put in the oven for 2 to 3, or four hours, and left to do what science intended. Become a veritable feast to the senses. Slow cooking allows all the ingredients to break down and become harmonious in flavour. It is important to understand how this process works on a minimal level and how herbs amplify slow cooking to a whole other degree.
Herbs and slow cooking are synonymous; as are spices and fast cooking.
For me the art of fast cooking, be that either using a wok or frying pan, is knowing what spices work well with whatever cut of meat and or veggies I’m using, to achieve either a subtle, or what I call, explosive dish. Spices that either tickle the tongue with delight. Or spices that all but take your breath away. Not because they are burning your mouth in a nuclear meltdown—heavens no—but because of the flavour explosion.
I’ve spent a great deal of time perfecting these two [art] forms of cooking, understanding the science as best I can to maximise my skill-set. Because, when all said and done, it’s me who’s eating the end result, and what I crave is not plain ordinary, greasy, bland food, but taste, sensation, and that overall mouth-awareness: Umami.
Going hand in hand with my two preferred styles of cooking is the quality of ingredients. Fresh always being best where at all possible. Living in a French-based culture, here in Québec, I’m lucky to have a variety of local Marchés or Halles offering up all things food. They usually include: a fishmonger, butcher, bakery, green grocery, cooked meat deli, cheese shop, coffee shop, chocolatier, sushi bar, well — you name it. These Marchés are located at a convenient spot for the worker who, before going home, stops by to pick up their fresh ingredients for dinner.
I realise life without access to my own les Halles Cartier would be unthinkable, given how reliant I have become on their wares.
Vive les Halles!