What happens to you when things go wrong in the kitchen? It happens to everyone, not even Mario Batali gets an eternal free pass. This weekend I had a long visit from the mischievous Kitchen Gremlin. Tried and true recipes that failed, timing that was off, foods just not tasting right. Fortunately our guests were kind and forgiving, but it still rankles.
I’m not saying that I pitched food out into a snow bank because I was disappointed with the results, but things were not what they should have been.
Can you minimize visits from the Gremlin? I think so, and one of the key things you can do is to be organized. Plan the meal(s) thoroughly, shop with a list, be consistent about your mise en place, etc. But when the gremlin does arrive, don’t panic. If the recipe isn’t working out the way you planned, will anyone else notice? If not, don’t sweat it and enjoy. If the recipe is flat out not working, you can try and correct or adapt or pitch it and move on. The ice cream your making is too soft? Serve it in a champagne flute and call it parfait. The sauce is too thin? It’s now called au jus. And the boule that I forgot about and left in the oven until it had an inch thick crust? Well, it got turned into some excellent garlic breadcrumbs to go onto top of today’s pea soup.
We all want things to be perfect, but cooking involves natural products, and natural products aren’t at all consistent. Which I think is why the octopus ragu I made was so awful. It was an octopus so large it should have been classified as a deep-sea monster. I’m still not sure what I would have done differently, but life goes on, and you eat less for lunch and hopefully make a better dinner. Relax, and cut yourself some slack, its just one meal out of many.