Yesterday afternoon I was sitting at my computer, considering the ingredients I had and wondering how I could combine them in some novel way. I was wanting to use up some ham and cooked rice without going the fried rice route since I was the only person eating.
Naturally I smugly turned to the internet. Wondering to myself how anybody ever managed to prepare meals without the luxury of thousands of recipes at their instant beck and call, I started a search for dishes with ham and rice as the main components.
Pretty quickly I came across a recipe based upon a classic Indian dish from British colonial days.Kedgeree seemed to fill the bill. This particular recipe, abandoning the more classic use of smoked fish as the main protein, used ham, rice, hard boiled eggs, cream, curry powder, parsley and a little butter. Very fast, simple, easy, and I had everything I needed right here.
Investigating the history of the dish a little further, I came up with a couple of interesting tweaks to use up even more of the ingredients I had sitting around, items that were getting dangerously close to moving from "produce" to "compost".
So I broke one of my cardinal rules. I changed the recipe for a dish I have not only never prepared before, but never eaten before.
I don't know how Kedgeree is "supposed" to taste or turn out and yet I decided to alter amounts and include other ingredients, based upon my reading about the dish.
And I humbly submit to you here that I was rewarded with a lesson in why I ought NOT break my rules.
The Kedgeree was not awful, it was not inedible, but it was certainly not anything I'd want to serve or eat more of. I actually tossed out the serving I had left over. This is significant. I was raised by my Mother, who grew up during the Depression, not to do that. In her version of the world, you don't throw away "perfectly good" food. Ever.
But this wasn't either. Perfect. Or good. It was just, well, kind of blech....
So my brief foray into Indian Colonial cooking was a flop. The information I was able to retrieve over the internet gave me a false sense of mastery and insight into a cuisine I know very little about. Certainly not enough to double seasonings or substitute ingredients on my own. Live and learn. To my relief, since I was fixing dinner only for myself, at least I did not subject anybody else's palate to my experiment in Kedgeree terror last night.
The next time I am brashly tempted to get away from where my combination of technique and experience comfortably co-exist, I will recall this failed dinner and hopefully be reminded to take things at a pace that better suits me. It is not that I won't experiment, or be adventurous with trying new things, but a good cook knows her limitations.
Just for today, I won't weigh in on the flap raised by a New York Times reporter who had the temerity to report on "authentic" Tex-Mex. I will simply point out for starters that early on he refers to "espadrilles" as native Texas footwear.
Granted, the guy is supposed to know about food, not shoes, but somebody somewhere at the Times ought to have caught a potential gaffe that large. His article includes "without apology" in it's title, but I doubt Mr. Drape will get away without saying he is sorry to any Texans he might run across in the next, oh, ten years or so.
Not unless he commits a larger error in between now and then.
Maybe this guy needed a lesson about HIS limitations as well.