By Karl Lawless.
This week I have cooked dishes from Israel, England and the U.S. Each weekend I vary our breakfast menu with dishes from Austria, France, Germany, England and Ireland. All my research, recipes and methods have commenced or have been finalised online. The possibilities and access to instant information at one’s fingertips (on your smartphone) while working in the kitchen is beyond the comprehension of my twenty-year-old self (racking my brains trying to impress my Head Chef with new menu ideas).
Now, back then I was under the self imposed impression that you were supposed to create these ideas from your own imagination (how naïve). As I moved from job to job I became more experienced and picked up ideas, influences and methods from the kitchens I worked in. If I wanted to do my own research, I’d hope Santa would buy me a cookbook for Christmas (never thought of the library) as I knew I couldn’t really afford the cookbooks myself.
What joy then that with the advent of technology coinciding with my ever increasing maturity and enlightenment I can now inform myself of absolutely anything my culinary heart desires.
I recently wanted to BBQ whole chickens for a 21st birthday function (well paying gig) and wanted to pre-brine my chickens in lemon, rosemary and thyme (vac pack for three days, unbelievable flavour). To brush up I Youtubed ‘how to divide a chicken’ and brushed up on something I probably should have paid attention to twenty years previously. I can now look at videos on TopChefs and see the best way to fillet salmon posted by Japanese Sushi Masters or even the fastest Kitchen Porter in the world.
Anyone with basic cooking ability or nouse can train themselves further through video demos on any kitchen practice from how to debone a chicken thigh to making American pancakes.
The explosion of cookery programs, particularly from far flung locations, has led to a diverse range of restaurants and food outlets springing up. Maybe it’s always been like this. However ,we do seem to have really imported wholeheartedly the street food/diner style of the U.S. Really tasty stuff. You can’t cross the street for the amount of pulled pork sandwiches donning menus all across the country.
The take on the Reuben is out the door roundabout these Isles over the last year or so.
The basis is the same. Quality ingredients, cooked well. The retail medium has and is changing. Anyone heard of @akillersandwich? This is a perfect example of how anyone can create a food business without a traditional shop front. Instant and clever imagery, limited availability and a must have sambo all combine to make this something you just MUST have. The fact that only 99 other people are having it makes it even more so.
This accessibility does however lead to deeper questions beyond the simple quandary of ‘what will I cook/eat next?’ We don’t all live in the same regions of the world, we are not all subject to the same seasonality and our quest for having what we want, right now brings its own ethical dilemmas.