Why food ingredients matter (and how)

As urban folk we’ve developed a wide range of tastes for different types of cuisine. As travellers to different countries and with access to different types of cuisines, we’ve developed extremely sophisticated preferences in food.

However, this sensitivity and sophistication has not developed (except in very rare cases) a higher sensitivity to the quality of ingredients. This is understandable with most Indian food, original aromas and tastes of the ingredients are highly modified by the uses of spices and other flavouring.

But as we adopt cuisines with more subtle flavouring, the poor quality of vegetables we have access to becomes more apparent. The flavours described so vividly on the many cooking shows now on TV seem miles apart from the herbs and vegetables we have in our kitchens. If quality, taste and authenticity are important to you – you will probably have to try much harder.

Surprisingly (or perhaps not surprisingly), we’ve found that most chefs at even well rated restaurants and high-star hotels have resigned themselves to ingredients that are are mediocre at best. Most have developed the ability to create great tasting (and looking) dishes from very poor ingredients (because they are sourced from far and wide).

Only the very rare chef seems to be interested in great quality, and we’ve had the pleasure to work with and learn from some of them.

Clearly what they value even more than our organic quality is the freshness of our produce, and this is because…

  1. The flavours of each fresh ingredient are much stronger in every type of vegetable, since loss of moisture hasn’t occurred. This directly impacts the taste of the dish immensely. (the organic nature help with creating stronger flavours as well).
  2. More subtlety in the use of external flavouring is possible since flavours don’t need to be specially enhanced for the dish to be as authentic as possible.
  3. The ingredients can be used whole to make the dish more attractive, and don’t need to be “masked” to disguise poor appearance in less fresh produce. Eg. lettuce leaves can be used while instead of breaking them finer.

If you’re really serious about how your food tastes, fresh and flavourful ingredients always matter. Just ask any truly great chef.

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