Thursday, June 11, 2009

Test Cooking

Test Cooking for yourself isn't very fun.

Don't get me wrong, I love to cook, but I love to cook in conjunction to cooking for someone. Sharing the experience of good food is one of my absolute favorite past times. And, of course, it's no wonder that cooking for one doesn't have that same dimension of pleasure.

Today is day 3 of the Thai food test cooking marathon. The snack green mango is what started this blog in the first place, but if you rifle through my archives, though Thai food and sensibility has had a great influence over what I eat and cook over the past years, Thai food is still an adventure to me. Which is what my book is about.

Anyway, test cooking recipes for my book is proving to be both interesting and helpful in understanding the cuisine (and filling).

I can't help but think again that Thai and Italian food have the communality of very good produce which is a substantial boost to any dish. While pounding the latest curry paste (sans the creamy grey shrimp paste this time which kinda icks me out), I remembered that my aunts would throw in the whole garlic clove (they were so tiny to begin with) and pounded together even the thin skins of the tiny purple garlic cloves. This reminded me of the Animal, Mineral, Vegetable book by Barbara Kingsolver, and her short writing on various kinds of garlic, which in turn made me want to grow my own garlic. Garlic is already a marvelous addition to many dishes, but even more flavorful garlic? Be still my heart!

Pounding curry pastes quickly becomes a meditative process like kneading dough. It takes time, and you could use a machine (I couldn't, my food processor is out at the country house), but when you reap the rewards -- a much more flavorful curry soup, than one using the store bought kind, there's a glowing satisfaction to the whole process.

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