Wednesday, May 23, 2007
The No. 1 Rule of Cooking
Last night I taught my first cooking class for Sur La Table at The Grove! Dear reader, I was so nervous. I got a call a few days ago asking if I could sub for a teacher who suddenly canceled. I've learned when the Universe drops a gift in my lap the correct response is, Thank you! But my impulse is to doubt myself and believe I'm not enough. I've taught plenty of cooking classes for birthday parties or groups of friends and they've always been a hit, but Sur La Table is an official entity. A corporation I seem helpless against giving lots of my money to: they have such fun toys! Now they're going to pay me? I will represent them? Whoa. I wasn't sure I was worthy.
Check it out, the menu was ambitious: Crab and Avocado Tostadas; Roast Pork Loin with Mole (a streamlined version, the original takes 3 days, sweet Lord); Chicken Enchiladas with Green Olives, Three Chile Rice (though the recipe included only 2 kinds of chiles, very mysterious); Spinach, Orange and Jicama Salad with a Toasted Cumin Vinaigrette; a Tres Leches Cake; and homemade Jamaica Tea that we turned into margaritas.
Fortunately it was a hands-on class, not all demonstration, but still I was plagued by those "You're not qualified, you gringa imposter" evil whispering voices in my head. So I did what I've learned to do in these situations: I prayed to the Goddess of my kitchen to help me be of service by teaching folks to be happy in their kitchens. Then I completely over-prepared because I can't help myself.
Last summer I taught an excellent "Mexican Cooking for Gringos" cooking class for a birthday party, so I dug up my notes from that shindig. Then I did lots more research on the cuisine de Mexico, all its amazing indigenous ingredients (tomatoes started there, not in Italy), and finally went through the recipes with my crazy-obsessive attention to detail.
And you know what? It was fantastic! I lectured for a half hour on this nuanced cuisine and its ingredients, then took everybody through the recipes so they'd be prepared for the work ahead. The students loved it: they paid attention, asked questions, and were intrepid cooks as they boldly attempted new techniques and tried different flavors. I cracked jokes, sung the praises of the Aztec God who gave us chocolate, and taught them the Tory Davis No. 1 Rule of Cooking.
Do you know the rule, dear reader? Ok, pay attention because this is important:
You can always order pizza.
Take a minute, reflect on this. It's good, right? Basically, we don't have to be afraid to try something new in the kitchen because the worst that can happen is we'll completely ruin it. And then you order pizza. Pizza will arrive at your house in under an hour and everybody likes it. No big deal. I feel there's a larger lesson in there somewhere, but hey, I just talk food.
So join me dear readers, if you're so inclined and live around LA, for the next class I'm teaching. June 25th, back at Sur La Table, we'll have some fun doing Easy Mexican Cooking. As my business card says, Today is all we have. Why not eat well?