[[SIXTH UPDATE – IF YOU HAVEN’T ADDED TO THIS LIST, THEN PLEASE SEE THE COMMENTS AND COME UP WITH AN IDEA WORTHY OF INCLUSION – NOTE THAT I WOULD PREFER TO GET TO 54 OR SO SINCE I’M NOT QUITE SURE ALL THE SUGGESTIONS SO FAR QUITE MAKE THE CUT AS FAR AS TOP EXPERIENCES FOR A NORMAL COOK.]]
Many of you have probably read about the latest Nigel Slater article in the Observer (UK Sunday Newspaper) by now where he lists 50 things that every foodie should do at sometime in their life. A couple of bloggers (you’ll have to scroll down a little on that second one)I know (not surprisingly, both are in the book) have commented on which of the 50 they have done. However, as they both point out, many of the 50 are impossible for normal people, even if you substitute a local equivalent.
I will say that I have done 16 (of the original Observer list) if I make a few local allowances.
However, that list really is not possible for normal people – not even remotely – so I’d like to enlist all of your help in compiling a REAL list that any food blogger in the world could achieve – and that is at least as good if not better than the Observer list. Remember that we are going for the top 50 food experiences of a lifetime. Please add your suggestions/additions in comments and I will update from time to time.
I am going to kick the list off with all the things on the Observer list that I think ARE possible for anyone.
1) Make toast
Not just any old piece of toast, but that which has been cut thick from a fresh, old-fashioned white loaf.
2) Dismember a chicken
Nigella Lawson says that everyone should do this at least once in their lives. It is actually quite easy when you get the hang of it, and your supper will taste much better for your having had a hand in it, so to speak.
3) Boil a new-laid egg
4) Pick your own
I’m going to transform this from mushroom gathering (a risky business but one that I have actually done) to gathering any kind of wild crop and cooking it. One of my top food memories of all time is walking back from a place the kids had gone horse-riding on a trip to Cork in Ireland. It was a five mile walk and I gathered about four pounds of ripe, rich blackberries on the way. We had pie that night.
5) Learn how to make a REAL dry martini
I’ll leave this in even though cocktails aren’t my thing, I know they are for many
6) Shuck an oyster
No excuse on this one – it is easy and eating a fresh, raw oyster really is something you have to do at least once
7) Eat the first asparagus – but despite what they say in the Observer, it doesn’t have to be a British asparagus – it has to be a LOCAL asparagus – one picked at most a few hours before
8) Be cooked for by a legend – rather than go with Marco Pierre White since it seems unlikely that it will actually happen, this can be ANYONE you think of as a legend – and that means ANYONE.
9) Pod fresh peas – I can go with this one too – peas are very satisfying and truly fresh taste very different from anything else
10) Queue for fish and chips – I’m keeping this one too, although it does stretch the definition here a little – it may not be possible for everyone.
11) Get up early and go to market – this should really be number one – there is absolutely NO excuse for not doing this at least once in your life – you should really do it every week…
12) Catch your own dinner – I’ll extend this to any fishing/hunting/trapping form. It really makes you think about the food chain and where you sit and the difference between a living creature and a shrink-wrapped package in a refrigerated case
13) Grill a steak – even if you are a vegetarian. There’s something buried in our evolutionary psyche that reacts to cooking meat over a fire.
14) Bake a loaf of bread – another to put at the top of the list – there is no excuse possible
15) Milk a cow – I’m lucky enough to have done this and to have drunk the unpasteurized result back when I was four on a farm in Devon
and now I am going to add my own one to the list….
16) Hand make fresh pasta – there is little to beat the joy and satisfaction of working with your hands on something so simple and yet sublime.
OK – your turn….
17) Making stock from scratch – Kitchen Queen Tai suggested this one.
18) Preserve something (jam or pickles etc.) – Culinary Fool suggested this.
19) Grow your own – this would have been my second if I had allowed myself one. Ellen from Cheap Cooking suggested this and added, “fresh herbs, a tomato plant in a pot, or a full-blown vegetable garden,” and that she loves going out to see what’s for dinner.
20) “In the middle of the night, share fresh, cool water with someone close to you, via a kiss” – suggested by Sam (aka Sixy Beast for obvious reasons!)
21) Cook FOR a legend – Mike at The Radio Kitchen suggested this and I like it – it would be fun! (we are going to let him have three suggestions unfairly because his three are so good and so eminently achievable)
22) Taste wine straight from the barrel – should be possible for most people – harder in the tropics and the very cold climates but still within possibility and it sounds so nice.
23) Volunteer in a soup kitchen – a totally worthy goal for at least once in your life… (these last two were also from Mike)
24) Brew beer, ale or mead (I’d add ferment wine to the list too) – from Barabara of Tigers and Strawberries.
25) Make chocolate yourself from cocoa beans – this one is pretty tough – I’m not sure how easy it would be in a normal kitchen – but a very worthy goal – from chronicler at Food Chronicles.
26) Make and/or eat breakfast in bed – NO, no frying pans and primus stoves under the sheets! You know what we mean. Although this is an easy goal, it is a worthy one. From Rachael of Fresh Approach Cooking.
27) Make a souffle – (“Presenting the flavor of eggs in its best possible light. And offering a presentation that is pure delight to gaze upon”) from Kevin at Seriously Good.
28) Roast a suckling pig in a backyard pit – I’ve helped do this one but maybe I should do it all for real…this is also one that is more of a challenge for the urban and suburban among us. Well, my Dad did it back in 1976 in the back garden of a semi-detached in a London suburb – right in the middle of the lawn – so you can do it too! Suggested by Sylvie of Food – Got To Love It.
29) Learn how to make your own cheese – this is another one I would have added if I had more than one choice so I am very glad that Claire of eat stuff suggested it.
30) Go back to the country or region of your heritage and learn to cook something like your ancestors. (OK – this is clearly an American suggestion what with the ‘give me your tired, your hungry…’ and all but if you take it in a generous spirit and look for nomadic roots in the mists of time or just step back a few hundred years and look at what you might cook…and I really like the suggestion anyway – from Sarah of The Delicious Life.
31) Make your own truffles (the chocolate kind). Fatemeh of Gastronomie had this as her second suggestion, her first being to deep fry a turkey, but I am not prepared to cede that that is an experience of a lifetime.
32) Make tortillas by hand, corn or flour – Renee of no known abode suggested this and I think it is a good one. In my experience, outside of the Americas, all Mexican food is execrable, and one of the reason is the tortillas. (There’s a whole side conversation here about just how bad cuisines are outside of their native land. In my admittedly limited experience, cuisines are like real ales in this regard – they don’t travel all that well and the further they go the worse they are. That’s alleviated somewhat by how much of the culture itself has been exported, so Indian food in England is better than anywhere else outside of India, but I still suspect it is true on the whole).
33) Teach or encourage a child to cook – another great suggestion – and since it came from my Mom (Adele) it is more than appropriate.
34) Breed your own animal to eat (suggested chicken or rabbit) – BMan suggested this and then rescinded it. But I overrode and am putting it in since it is quite possible for most people and really forces you up against some of those modern food production issues…
35) Make a pizza from scratch – everything – dough, tomato sauce and even, for an extra challenge, the mozzarella cheese(scroll to the bottom)…selected from FarmGirl‘s two because the other one was a bit too much like several we have already.
36) Make your own couverture by tempering chocolate (one of the key techniques for making really nice desserts and chocoalte candies) – suggested by Stephanie from the Grub Report who just got her writing compared to that of Elmore Leonard or James Ellroy!
37) Make vinegar yourself – suggested by Kevin of Seriously Good and inspired by his mother’s five-year-old sherry vinegar.
38) Create a cake recipe – not from a recipe, not by making a little change to a recipe. Make up your own cake recipe. Tweak it a little. Play with it. Make it YOURS. Suggested by BJ of Early One Morning.
OK – let’s have some more suggestions…we still need 50 to rival the Observer.
39) Work in a restaurant – this one’s a little tougher but you can volunteer to do it once or twice – A JoAnna at ChefBlog says, “Whether a fine restaurant, a family-dining place, or a fast food place, the experience will alter your perceptions of how food is made. A good place will show you how things should be done. A bad place will show you how things ususally ARE done.”
40) ‘Point at the menu’ – another entry from Chef JoAnna. She wants you to order something at a restaurant that you can’t pronounce and don’t know what it is – roll the dice and accept what comes.
41) Take a teenager/child out to lunch and teach them how to dine out – how to sit, what to do with the napkin, how to be polite and enjoy the experience, how to tip, how to offer to share the check graciously (rather than cheeseparing), how to summon a waiter, how to ask for the check, and so on. Another from JoAnna at ChefBlog.
42) Grill pizza (or bread) – once you’ve mastered making bread (see #14 above) now try making it over/with an open flame. It gives you yet another dimension and will get every kid or teenager at a barbeque begging to help. Suggested by Sweetnicks at Sweetnicks.
43) Make your own sausage – stefoodie suggested this and pointed out very accurately that this way you know everything that goes into it! I remember doing this as a kid with my family and we really enjoyed it – it really WAS fun (unlike making headcheese which was interesting but NOT fun).
44) Visit a farm – go to really see and experience how your food is (or should be produced). That’s a hint – don’t go to a factory farm…suggested by Kate at Accidental Hedonist.
45) Learn to make the five (or six) ‘mother sauces’ properly – in classic French cuisine, all sauces derive from these five: the bechamel – a white roux-based sauce; the holandaise or mayonnaise – a cold egg-based emulsification; the veloute – a stock and cream based ‘blond’ sauce; the espagnole or brown sauce – stock-based and thickened with a brown roux; and finally you get a divergence between the ‘old testament’ Escoffier who makes the fifth a beurre blanc with shallots and vinegar and Careme, the ‘new testament’ who makes the fifth a tomato-based sauce. Suggested by the pragmatic chef.