This may strike odd to some but I read cookbooks during my downtime. They soothe me. One of the best cookbooks I’ve read in a very long time is Heritage by Sean Brock. Not only is the writing poignant, the photos knock it out of the park.
For those who know me in real life, know that I am a super duper ultra mega Sean Brock fan girl. His love and respect for food, ingredients, cooking and owning your heritage is reminiscent of the Japanese ethos. But, most importantly, he is bringing attention to traditional American cooking in ways no chef has ever done before.
Recently on a long airplane ride, I listened to food podcasts and re-read Heritage. Sean Brock’s manifesto is too inspiring not to share, so here it is:
My Manifesto by Sean Brock
- Cook with soul — but first, get to know your soul.
- Be proud of your roots, be proud of your home, be proud of your family and its culture. That’s your inspiration.
- Cook as if every day you were cooking for your grandmother. If your grandmother is still alive, cook with her as much as possible, and write everything down.
- Respect ingredients and the people who produce them.
- Visit the farmers’ market at least once a week, and use most of your food budget at the market.
- Buy the best that you can afford.
- Grow your own — even if it’s just a rosemary bush. You’ll taste the difference and start planting more right away.
- Do as little as possible to an ingredient when it’s perfect and at its peak.
- You can never be too organized; a clean work space allows for a clean mind that can produce a clean plate of flavors.
- Cook in the moment. Cook the way you are feeling, cook to suit the weather, cook with your mood, or to change your mood.
- Let vegetables tell you what to do. Taste them raw before you start thinking about how to cook them. Are they sweet? tender? crunchy? starchy?
- Cook a vegetarian feast occasionally. Vegetables cooked with care can be just as rewarding as a piece of braised meat.
- If you are dead set on making a specific recipe but when you go to the market the ingredients don’t speak to you or feel and smell perfect, don’t make the recipe. Cook from the hip — you may surprise yourself. Perfect ingredients don’t require much’ shop for flavor, not concept.
- Overseason something with salt and acid just so you know what is too much. Then ride the line, and you’ll find your balance.
- Listen to your tongue; it’s smart.
- Cook using your instincts. Cooking times are just guidelines.
- Try to make every dish better every time you make it. Keep a notebook to document successes and failures. And record your creative inspirations in it as well.
- Eat with your hands as much as possible.
- Be curious! Ask yourself questions: Why did the fish stick to the pan? Why did my sauce break?
- Never stop researching and seeking knowledge in the kitchen.
- Cooking shoul dmake you happy. If it starts making you angry, stop cooking and go eat at a nice restaurant. Come back the next night and think about what went wrong and give it another shot.
- He who dies with the biggest pantry wins.
…and there you have it. Hopefully I won’t get busted for posting this on my blog but if you are a food lover, definitely pick up his book. It’s worth it.
Images courtesy of Eater