Friday, October 16, 2009

Mashed Potatoes

A few weeks ago Mat asked for a new chinoise to replace our old handle-less one. It seemed a reasonable request so the next time I'm at the "Depot" I pick one up. The new version. A plastic one. Great, I wonder how long this will last. Anyway, I've noticed Mat using it for the mashed potatoes. He's running the mashed potatoes through the chinoise to produce a very fine creamy texture. (A chinoise is a very fine sieve shaped like a "China-man's hat used for straining soups, stocks, sauces, etc.) It's a bitch to pass mashed potatoes through it. It got me thinking about how Mat and I approach cheffing. There is no freaking way I will ever put mashed potatoes through a chinoise. No freaking way. I appreciate the effort and the final product but it's an example of how our styles differ. Not only how we approach food but the job as well. Mat loves to cook. He gets to work early every day because he just likes to be cooking. He has the passion and energy and loves the work and the food. I don't anymore. After 35 years it's extremely difficult to keep that edge. Even in my personal tastes I have come full circle and prefer a simple straight forward "comfortable" dinner to the multi course extravaganza. They almost seem silly to me now. 20 years ago I might have gotten satisfaction of putting potatoes through a sieve but now that seems silly to me too. Is it because I'm burned out after 35 years years of an intimate relationship with food? Or because of that long time relationship I've become so familiar with food that I've grown to recognize the essentials in good food and dining and realize it's not about awards, fame, money and the latest trends. Much like life, as you age you understand that it's not about the short term satisfactions you get along the way, it's about the core principles of love, family and peace. You can apply those same basics to cooking and dining and you'll recognize the final product and most of the people you cook for will too. It's old school but I think old school is the next new school.

As a kid we ate alot of boxed "mashed potatoes". Mom was busy and had six mouths to feed. We always knew if the potatoes were lumpy mom made real mashed potatoes. She took the time to make them, not perfectly but she made real mashed potatoes because she loved us. After many years of mashing potatoes she would cut a corner or two and leave some lumps. You may find a lump in my potatoes but that's ok because after mashing my share of potatoes I've grown to love the lumps.

I also give that new plastic chinoise three months. A fifty dollar plastic sieve. Sheesh!