Our daily routine is a constant search for inspirations. Where we are located, there really aren’t many interesting places to go out to eat. So, we have to look for our inspirations elsewhere. Since we cannot dine out on a regular basis we use books and the Internet to stretch our horizons. The upside and the downside of this is that often we are the only ones doing the cooking. When I taste the combinations in a restaurant, they either work for me or they don’t. By dining upon someone else’s creations I can see new interpretations and perspectives that I might not find on my own. Sometimes I can sample something transcendent that needs no alteration, sometimes (most of the time) I can appreciate the dish and still see how I would do it differently, and sometimes a dish is so incredibly discordant that I never want to revisit the combination again. The first and the last options almost never occur when I read about a composition. Seeing combinations in a book or on a menu I can imagine the way that I would make the flavors harmonize in a dish. Not being able to taste something allows my imagination full reign over tastes, textures and flavors. When you factor out the need for execution, you can learn something positive from any chef, cook or writer who takes a pen to paper, which is not necessarily the case in a dining experience. Our search for inspiration has taken us all over the world, mentally if not physically. Demanding jobs, familial obligations, financial constraints, these things all factor into the ability to travel to exotic places and taste local dishes in their natural settings. Thankfully (in some ways) the world is shrinking. Information, ideas and ingredients are easier to come by if you know where to look. Which is not to say that we wouldn’t love to travel around the world and experience all that it has to offer. One day we will. But until that day, I can be an armchair chef and traveler in my spare time in order to hone my skills in the kitchen, wine cellar and dining room the rest of the time.