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Be a Taste Maker

This week, I want to talk a little about the importance of tasting your food during cooking. While this may seem like a basic thing to some, I've learned that a lot of people, from the strict recipe followers down to the professional line cooks, aren't in the habit of tasting their food while they are cooking! And I want to, hopefully, change that by explaining how something that seems so basic can have such a dramatic impact on your food, your enjoyment and appreciation of food and food systems, as well as your cooking ability!

Waste Not...

The first point about why it's so important to taste your food is from an appreciation-for-others standpoint and is pretty simple; Don't make all the work that goes into getting food on your plate worthless by guessing (instead of knowing) that it tastes good! I can't stress this one enough! If you don't taste your food while it's cooking you are certainly only guessing that it actually tastes good when it gets to the plate. Taste it (and adjust if necessary) and know for sure!! That way all the work that goes into getting food from the field to your plate isn't wasted!

Life's a Journey

Every food system is a little different, but in case you didn't know (or haven't thought about it in a while), for the average piece of produce you buy at a store, there are a lot of people and tons of effort involved before it makes it to your plate! From the person who plants the seed, the effort and attention put in to have it grow successfully to maturity, the person who picks it, the person who washes and sorts it into a box to be shipped, the ordering manager who orders the produce for the store, the truck driver who drives it to the store, the receiving person who unloads the delivery truck, the produce person who stocks the produce department, the checkout person who charges you, your effort of deciding you want it, selecting, and bringing it home and then taking the time to lovingly prepare it! What a journey, huh!?! That's an awful lot of people's work to waste if you don't know for a fact that it tastes good in the end!! Tasting your food while it's cooking is the only way to know for a fact it's good before putting it on your (or your loved ones') plates! Be sure to put everyone's effort who has contributed to your meal to good use by knowing that your food tastes good!

Taste Your Way to Becoming a Great Cook

One of the other great reasons to taste your food during cooking is because it will help improve your palette and your cooking abilities. Tasting your food before it's finished cooking lets you taste things before they are finished being seasoned. This trains your palette to not only understand the importance of seasoning, but also to learn what food tastes like before and after. This in turn helps your brain during cooking (in the future) because it already has experience knowing the before and after of seasoning with different types of seasonings. So when you taste food in the future, you have experience to draw upon to help you make the call as to what your food needs. This helps with your intuition while cooking. It's also one of the reasons chefs taste all the time, to keep learning and honing their palette. And if you have ever cooked with a good cook/chef and ask for their help, the first thing they will do is to taste what you have. Your/their palette knows what's missing or what a dish needs by experiences that it's already had and by thinking about what it needs or is missing. Tasting your food consistently trains your palette and improves your intuition through experience!

Tasting More = Loving Food More

The greater you train your palette, the more enjoyment you will inevitably get out of your food because you will become more attuned to the different aspects of flavor. In the same way that musicians listen to music a little more intensely than people who don't know how to play music, cooks appreciate food on a higher level because not only do they know what goes into making it, but they have also trained their palettes (by tasting consistently and constantly) to be more highly attuned. And you can do this at home simply by being what I call a Flavor Detective and tasting your food constantly while thinking about the different flavors, textures, flavor combinations and sensations you experience with each bite! This will hone your palette while at the same time training your instincts as a cook and all you have to do is think and taste, taste, taste!!!

Tasting your food consistently during the cooking process is one of the best ways to spread the love; for your food, for everyone's effort that went into your food, and for your cooking ability and enjoyment! Taste early and often for everyone's sake!

Happy Cooking Y’all!

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