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Tips & Tricks: Living with a Chef

Posted by on October 4, 2012

So this will be my first real piece here, so I will be talking about… not me. Not except to explain that I’ve only ever really lived with guys in college dorms and civil engineers, both of which seem to have fairly lax standards. For the former, they have to be able to get at their stuff and hear their music, and that’s about all that matters. For the latter, everything was handled functionally. Sure, the living areas were comfortable and presentable… but their function was to be comfortable and presentable for guests. Everything was handled, to where I seem uniquely capable and naturally suited to half of the tasks of managing a home and, well, to have excessive difficulty with all the others. After all, my parents were engineers. I saw organization and logic all the time, but it was always controlled by them, and requirements were always lax and seemingly obvious. Living with a chef is an adjustment. So for those of you out there who have a significant other who’s a pro in the kitchen, I leave you my two cents (or more).

  • It is Not Your Kitchen: This is the first thing you need to learn if your significant other is a serious cook, be they trained or not. It isn’t your kitchen anymore. It’s hers/his. If it’s not organized a way that works for them, you’ll hear about it. This is their comfortable place, it is also their workspace. It would be like if you had an office and lounge room in your place. You’d cherish your little hideaway space, and not like to see other people rearrange it. Not that they won’t necessarily rearrange their kitchen at the drop of a hat.
  • There Are Always More Dishes: There always are, will be, or can be more dishes. This might be part of my life specifically (since part of the agreement is that she cooks and I do dishes… or I cook and I do dishes on special occasions because she really just hates dishes) but you’ll probably find it’s at least partly true even if dishes are a shared duty. After working in a professional kitchen, dishes are not used sparingly except when she feels bad for me, lack of dishwasher or no. There are health codes and proper cooking procedures to observe to make sure everything comes out just right in taste… and chemistry/structure at times. A lot of dishes will be produced because a lot of things will be made, in a lot of ways.
  • Every Meal is Special: Remember this. It is never just okay. It is something special. And it typically is- Tabi never cooks things quite the same twice, she’s always experimenting, usually ad-libs at least a part of a recipe, and always thinking. The food is delicious, or unusual, or both, especially with translating every thing you’ve ever known or love to gluten free. Until you start the diet, you really don’t realize how much wheat and barley are in everything, from the obvious pizzas, to broths or coated fries, right up to barley malt in those truffles you used to love at Christmas time. So everything is rediscovered. You will probably need to think about everything you are offered before you even sink your teeth in, because opinions will probably be wanted. And if it’s a failed experiment, it might be bad once in a while. But it’s never “just ok.” Remember that.
  • It is Always Time to Cook: Did you fancy yourself an artist once? Paint or take photographs? Did you write? I know I did, and writing especially seems to be comparable. It is a very mental process, but cannot happen more than loosely until you are at your work station and putting words down. Or in this case, ingredients. It might be something they thought up and were excited to do all day. Or they might wake up struck with inspiration. It doesn’t matter- if they have a passion for the food, at some point you will suddenly be made aware that it is time for dinner. Or brunch. Or lunch. Or breakfast. Or midnight snack. Or… well, I’ll feel like a hobbit if I go on for many more names. But while cooking is not always spontaneous, it is an art and a profession for many cooks. And if they are suddenly struck by genius… well, it works easier if you just learn ways to go with the flow and help out.

There are more snippets, and I’ll probably bring up a part two to introduce them sometime, but for now, that seems the basics of it. You and your gluten free chef have many frustrations, many good foods, and many discoveries ahead- and please, if you feel impressed with a recipe you’ve assembled or found, we’d love to hear about it, just like we love to share ours with you! Heck, we’d even enjoy stories of failed projects. We certainly have our share (we just like to try and focus on what does work for the blog usually). In the mean time, eat well, think hard/fun, and enjoy life.

Aaron

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