Two Types

So here’s the thing. I see two types of cook. Or call them chefs if you like but they’re still just cooking. Those who weigh and measure everything. Those who use their eyes and taste buds for everything. The exception, of course, is that you must weigh bread and cake ingredients or else you’ll mess them up.

Nigel Jones (RIP), my former boss as head of planning at BMP DDB, once explained how people like him played chess…

You feel your way around the board.

What he meant was, if you play what seem like obvious three and more move combinations and sacrifices without calculating the variations and they almost always work out, you are intuitive. You play intuitively.

And I see cooks who create intuitively. Like the doctor’s wife from Afghanistan who is an amazing cook. Goodness knows how many dinners she has hosted in her time. She may not be the fastest chopper or peeler. But she can taste with her eyes and finger tips.

Then you get trained chefs who weigh and measure everything and don’t taste! Because they can’t taste.

Did you know that chickpeas can suck all of the flavour out of a curry? Paneer is the same! We wash hundreds of spoons each day because we constantly taste. And tasting isn’t a one person job. V and I have to compare notes.

‘There’s a bitter note because the ginger hasn’t cooked enough…’


‘There’s no depth. No other taste works it’s way up…’

And so on and so forth.

Am I an intuitive cook? I think so. How did I become intuitive? Because I used to dissolve my baby cousin’s Farley ‘s Rusks in warm milk then add cinnamon and saffron to it when I was 9 years old. I did that in a crystal ashtray (it had been washed) over a live gas flame. It exploded all over the kitchen. Yes I did get into trouble for that.

In other words, practice. Make a mistake. Practice again. Taste and gag. Try again.

Yet I still make mistakes. Entire dish for 30 diners was thrown away because V refused to serve it. Had to start again. Another time she told me my rice was too salty and inedible.

Do you know how insulting it is to comment on an Iranian’s rice? Which leads me to another point – ego. You can’t function in a kitchen if you have an ego. Because the kitchen produces the food. Not individuals.