I was playing on the interwebs recently and ran across a post on Sara Moulton’s blog about mise en place. Now, I wasn’t always a subscriber to the whole concept of prepping ingredients. In my early cooking days, I was more a ‘lets wing it, shall we?’ kind of gal.
As I experiment with more difficult concepts.. cheese making, meat curing, indian cuisines.. or with things that require fast cooking, or baking… the more I have come to rely heavily on the process.
In her blog she describes her process for a specific recipe.. how she will turn the pan on, add the oil, chop the onion, etc. My contention when I read this is that she probably has pretty good knife skills. Mine? Not BAD, but definitely not on par with the culinary trained. For her to, as a blanket, say that mise en place is kind of worthless does a disservice to the burgeoning home cook.
Will someone who can barely (or even just adequately) use a knife be able to peel and dice an onion, and two cloves of garlic before the oil over medium heat turns into a raging inferno?? Probably not.
Some of the commenters talk about the kitchen being a well timed symphony.. but this is a false analogy as well. It’s not like the violinists start playing when they trot in the door. They sit down, take their instruments and music out.. it’s a PROCESS.
I can definitely get behind each person having their own style and preference, but .. I prefer a pace in my kitchen that isn’t frenetic. If I ‘waste’ 10 minutes cutting and portioning items, then I can have a nice cooking experience in which I don’t run around like a maniac.
But hey, that’s just my two cents.