We develop habits. We repeat the same processes over and over again because it works, because it is consistent, because we know what the outcome will be. In the kitchen, as elsewhere, our habits grow from our experiences. Where we cook, who we cook with, and what kind of food we cook, influences and shapes what we do every day.
Too often habits turn into ruts. Even good habits can have their downside. If you make something perfectly again and again you miss the opportunity to discover what else it could be. For instance we were making agnolotti yesterday. We have become proficient in the technique of piping, rolling and cutting. The pasta may vary slightly based on filling and application but the end goal is always a bite-sized pillow of dough stuffed with something delicious. As I was editing pictures of the process it dawned on me, why do we always make them small? Why not make long stuffed folded tubes? The habit of making perfect agnolotti had blinded us to the possibility of changing the size and shape. Taking a step back and looking at things from a different perspective has made all the difference.
April 9, 2005