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Quote of the Day: Tamar Adler

January 12th, 2014

“If we were taught to cook as we are taught to walk, encouraged to first feel for pebbles with our toes, then to wobble forward and fall, then had our hands firmly tugged on so we would try again, we would learn that being good at it relies on something deeply rooted, akin to walking, to get good at which we need only guidance, senses and a little faith.

We aren’t often taught to cook like that, so when we watch people cook naturally, in what looks like an agreement between cook and cooked, we think that they were born with an ability to simply know that an egg is done, that the fish needs flipping, and that the soup need salt.”

Tamar Adler from An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace

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I loved this quote when I read this book. Many people aren’t taught how to really cook, to cook like you create any other kind of art. Cooking is definitely a skill that you learn, one you learn by really tasting the food you eat. Every time you eat you have the potential to hone your cooking skills.
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I love to cook and I’ve been honing my skills for my entire life. Creativity has always been one of my strengths and it really comes out when I cook.

What kind of cook would you say you are?

13 Comments to “Quote of the Day: Tamar Adler”
  1. Kay on January 12, 2014 at 5:51 am

    I like to cook, but really only on the weekend because I work outside the home. We rarely go out to eat, so when we do cook (it is usually me), I/we make enough for leftovers. We make our food go a long way!

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  2. daisy on January 12, 2014 at 8:06 am

    I’m a survival cook. I feed my family (because of allergies/preferences, I make three versions of the same dish each night), but I don’t really enjoy it too often. I’d love to take a cooking class to learn the basics. Sure wish I’d taken Home Ec in school or learned from my momma.
    Well, I’ve kept everyone alive for the last 14 years, I guess that’s something! ;0)

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  3. Marina on January 12, 2014 at 8:19 am

    I love the philosophy behind this quote!
    I always say cooking is like story telling. First learn the words, how they go together, then you retell it, then you change it a little, add to it, and some times make much simpler.
    I taught my husband how to cook by showing him how to cook meat, vegetables, how to make the different kind of sauces, stocks, properly, then he took off from there and cooking is now a rewarding and creative activity for each of us.
    When you buy from farmers and local producers, and grow your own, it is even more meaningful, you want to honor what you eat and all the work that went into it by cooking it to its best advantage.
    I love your photo of the perfectly poached egg on greens, with your own grown and cured bacon. I bet.
    I admire how you approach everything you do, and inspire people to do the same.

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  4. kristin @ going country on January 12, 2014 at 8:26 am

    Humility be damned: I am the best cook I know. That’s not to say I always love it, because anything that HAS to be done three times a day, day in and day out, will sometimes feel like drudgery, but that’s also the reason I’ve gotten so good at it. It is now almost like an instinct, albeit one that I learned.

    Also, actually growing or raising a lot of the food I cook helps, both because the base ingredient is so much better to start with and because it means I have a lot of that ingredient to experiment with. I don’t care how wealthy you are, unless you grow your own, you are never going to have bushels of perfect tomatoes at your disposal.

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    • Susy on January 12, 2014 at 1:19 pm

      You’re so right, having the freshest homegrown or locally grown ingredients makes a HUGE difference in the taste of food! Good food, cooked simply is the most delicious!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  5. Tom Wolfe on January 12, 2014 at 10:02 am

    The quote is a pretty good metaphor, comparing cooking to walking. But I’d liken an awesome cook (like our humble kristin above) to a talented athlete, and a humble/survival cook (like daisy) to someone who gets out and goes for walks regularly because it’s the right thing to do.

    We all have our special talents, and just because daisy isn’t an olympic class cook doesn’t mean she needs to aspire to be one, in the same way that the person whose daily fitness routine consists of a 30-minute walk doesn’t have to aspire to be a world-class athlete — she’s doing just fine (as her 14 years attests!)

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  6. Nebraska Dave on January 12, 2014 at 10:27 am

    Susy, what kind of cook am I? Hmmmm, that would be difficult for me to say. I suspect the word might be aspiring. I want to get better but with my single ingredient grandson and basic food daughter, it can be challenging to cook for a picky family. I am a little more experimental for myself but it usually ends up being casseroles, soup, or something in the crockpot so I can have many more meals as needed.

    I can’t say that I really enjoy cooking but there are times when it seems to be relaxing just to cook a meal, take my time eating, and cleanup after word. Every so often there’s a glimmer of hope that some day I could be a cook that gets a compliment or two. I’m not holding my breath for that one just yet. :-)

    Have a great day in the kitchen.

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  7. Kathie on January 12, 2014 at 11:08 am

    I love cooking and always have. I’ve challenged myself to cook as Susy does- and although I fell into a rut for a couple of months- it sure is refreshing to cook healthy, wholesome nutritious food for my husband and 3 kids. My preschooler has anaphylactic food allergies- at one time, it seemed she was allergic to everything and that was a cooking challenge. Now, she has outgrown the milder allergies (and soy/wheat/tomatoes) and it’s a bit easier. I sure do miss cooking fish/shellfish and eggs but I’m confident she’ll outgrow those too.

    The interesting thing is although she was allergic to certain foods, if we gave her an organic version- she was fine. Isn’t that odd? I still love to cook- even with the restrictions- and now I’m teaching my kids how to.

    Reply to Kathie's comment

    • Susy on January 12, 2014 at 1:20 pm

      I used to be allergic to eggs as well. I don’t know if I outgrew it or if it was the soy-free, corn-free, antibiotic-free eggs that I started buying as an adult. I’m also allergic to antibiotics, so any kind of meat/dairy that is conventionally grown makes me break out in hives. I can however, eat homegrown or antibiotic free.

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  8. Marina on January 12, 2014 at 11:17 am

    An after thought, brought on by Tom’s posting.
    Above all, cooking should be enjoyable. Some of us like the challenge of a complicated preparation, sometimes, and sometimes, as Suzy shows, a perfect egg is just the thing. As long as whatever is made is made with respect and joy, it will be good. And we have to eat, so why not make it a pleasure to cook!
    There is too much competition in this world, too many people feel that their best effort is not good enough. Not so.
    One’s best effort, over time, will always lead to growth and improvement, and usually with that enhanced enjoyment.
    Keep cooking, Daisy, feeding your family for 14 years when not even in love with cooking more than good enough. Lots of people just don’t bother anymore!

    Reply to Marina's comment

  9. Terri on January 12, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    Cooking with your own grown vegetables, fruits, meats, etc. makes it so much more satisfying. We rarely have a need to go to the grocery store. It is a given that any lunch that I take to work is something cooked at home and my coworkers know that. My contributions to luncheons at work are always home cooked and raved about, but others don’t seem to be inclined to try it themselves. My two daughters are following in my footsteps which makes me feel that I did something right. My Mom always cooked meals for us and I continued that tradition after I married and my daughters are as well. I don’t think that cooking something from scratch at home is a chore or anymore time consuming than picking something up on the way home or dumping something out of a box.

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  10. Melanie in CA on January 12, 2014 at 7:50 pm

    I’m with Nebraska Dave and Daisy – you could describe me as an aspiring cook. And slowly finding my way to understanding the basics of what goes with what and how to do things. My mother wasn’t much of a cook so I taught myself to cook as a kid by reading Betty Crocker and cobbling together the simplest and fastest meals I could for my younger siblings and me. Until recent years cooking was neither enjoyable nor inspiring, but once I slowed down and discovered quality ingredients the “chore” of cooking became an adventure.

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  11. Marcia on January 13, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    I learned to cook watching, and helping, one of the greatest home cooks I know: my mother. Some parents are so afraid to ask anything remotetly difficult from their children. My mom was of the philosophy that practice is a gift you give your kids, cuts and badly peeled potatoes are part of the journey to culinary independance. I made many inedible perogies before getting the knack of it but my mother patiently let me and even choked a few down. I am a confident cook and relaxed cook, just like my mother, one of the many gifts she gave me.

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This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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