Good Quote: Michael Ruhlman on Perfection

Good Quote: Michael Ruhlman on Perfection

Emma Christensen
Apr 30, 2009

In case you missed this in his interview with Evan Kleiman on Good Food last week, we wanted to share Michael Ruhlman's excellent words of advice regarding "good" versus "perfection" in the kitchen:

We need to know what "good" is, what the fundamentals are, before we have the capacity to convey the nuance in our craft... Before we can get to that greatness, we need to know these fundamentals. One way to start is by understanding ratios and basic techniques.

What Ruhlman is essentially saying in this part of the interview is that you can't expect perfection from yourself or from a recipe until you have an understanding of what simply qualifies as "good". You need a baseline. Learn the fundamentals first and then getting fancy becomes easier and more achievable.

We definitely get caught up in following recipes exactly, wanting to make the best cake or the perfect custard exactly as it appears in the photo from the cookbook. We hold our cooking up to the highest standards and feel let down when recipes don't turn out how we imagined.

We think there's absolutely nothing wrong with following recipes, but this is a good reminder to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. What is really going on in the recipe? What basic principles are in play? Is there anything that can be simplified? How does this recipe compare to those others?

Have you had a chance to read Michael Ruhlman's book, Ratio? Has it changed the way you approach recipes and cooking?

Related: Cooking without Recipes: Understanding Flavor

(Image: Flickr member utnapistim licensed under Creative Commons)

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