Substitution of Ingredients

Ok, so almost every week, I have a discussion with my wife. I can’t complain, she does all the food shopping based on a list that we both contribute to making. She does the best with the shopping locations we have available. However, I tend to be a bit picky, especially the first time I prepare a new dish. The first run through of any new recipe for me has to be letter perfect, ingredient wise, technique wise, every which way. Usually after the initial attempt, I modify the dish to suit both my level of cooking skill and our families individual taste (yes, this means adding more garlic to most dishes).

So here is my frustration. Quite often, the exact ingredient is not locally available. Be it the wrong shape of pasta, a certain kind of hot pepper or even, heaven forbid, the wrong cut of meat, occasionally, an ingredient has to be changed to accommodate local availability. Now, I’m not stupid. I know that you can make a damned fine meal with one or two slight modifications to ingredients. I do it quite often. But, philosophically, I balk. To change the contents changes the meal. I know with proper attention and care, the dish will still turn out great and everyone will love it. But on a basic level, its no longer the dish I started out cooking. It because something different, a variation on a dish. This is fine for subsequent preparations but as I said above, the first run through, I want a dish as close to the intended form as possible. Substitutions come later.

This leads to a question that I’m already starting to answer for myself as I type… Do I modify my intended menus based on what is available or do I modify the dishes on my menu to match ingredients. The logically side tells me that I need to use what is available and articulate the best dishes intended for the ingredients on hand. This is favorable in my opinion to changing a dish that calls for an ingredient that isn’t available. Maybe someday, I’ll have access to every ingredient in the world, fresh and in season, all the time but for now, concessions must be made.


3 Responses to Substitution of Ingredients

  1. Greg Senior says:

    I don’t know, I can see possible advantages to both ways, searching out small out of the way places and finding unique local recipes would be fun. Funky fusion would be “interesting” Dog schnitzel immediately pops into my head. Kimchi and sausage the possibilities are endless. Of course you will have the Clinic close by.

  2. xtna says:

    You are kind, honey…you know as well as I do that the lack of ingredients is usually due to the marathon shopping that must be done in an hour and a half with three screaming kids. Something besides my mind and nerves is bound to go missing…and sometimes the commissary is just out of things. Sea salt two weeks running?

  3. Joe Wallace says:

    The gubbmint knows damn good and well that after the zombie apocalypse ALL ingredients will be available with no shopping lines or money hassles. That’s why we haven’t got one yet–it’s AN OBAMA CONSPIRACY. The White House wants all the GOOD garlic for itself, and also to ward off the vampire Nixon that still roams the earth.

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