When chef, Momofuku restaurateur and irreverent media personality David Chang approached food journalist Priya Krishna with the idea to create a cookbook with a major twist—the book would have no recipes—she was deeply skeptical. It was 2019, the same year Krishna published her bestselling cookbook Indian-ish, which includes precise recipes for dishes like roti pizza and tomato rice with crispy cheddar. Chang’s idea was to try to share with the masses how he had started to cook at home after the birth of his first child—an improvisational, hack-filled approach that shuns all fuss and relies heavily on the microwave. “How are we going to put people in front of a steering wheel,” Krishna remembers thinking, “without telling them how to drive a car?”
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the world went into lockdown and Krishna found herself back at home in Dallas with her parents. She noticed her mom cooked just like Chang. “She was freewheeling in the kitchen, making constant substitutions, coming up with clever hacks on the fly,” Krishna says. “Suddenly everything Dave had said to me a year prior felt incredibly prescient.”
After months of debates about the clearest way to describe meat doneness, the importance of “authenticity” in food and the best approach to unraveling common misconceptions about cooking—all of which play out in colorful exchanges on the page—the pair is set to publish Cooking at Home: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Recipes (And Love My Microwave) on Oct. 26. A lively instruction manual on how to wing it in the kitchen, the book includes essays, interviews with food scientists and guidance on how to take basic ingredients like chicken thighs, rice or frozen vegetables and prepare them in simple, adaptable ways.
Chang and Krishna spoke to TIME about the roots of their perspectives on cooking, the best tips from the book and how they’re pushing back against rigid standards in the food industry.
TIME: Cooking at Home is dedicated to your moms. What are your strongest memories of your moms in the kitchen?
Krishna: There’s this line where Dave says something like, “How did the best cooks you know become the best? It wasn’t by following a recipe.” My mom immigrated to this country, found almost none of the ingredients she was familiar with and figured it out: I liked this dish, what are the flavors? Pita was a sub for roti. Feta was a sub for paneer. Seeing the way her mind worked was amazing, her ability to constantly innovate and adapt.
Chang: When I think about the memories I have as a child, if they’re not on the golf course, they’re moments of cooking with my mom or grandmother or aunts, making dumplings or cooking a steak from Costco in the toaster oven. It’s the same story of immigrant parents—my mom telling me that 7UP was why her naengmyeon was so delicious. …read more
Source:: Time – Entertainment
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