No subtitute for experience

While adhering to the rule, "the more you learn, the less you know", I'd like to think I am an accomplished (if sporadic, impulsive, and disorganized) cook. I can combine ingredients well enough to achieve the desired flavors and textures most of the time. Yet, there's always more to learn.

A few years ago, a... let's call her a friend... was making a lemon meringue pie. In December. Try as she might, she just couldn't get the meringue to "cook". It remained steadfastly soft and sticky.While I lack the stringent measuring discipline required of a pastry chef, I thought I'd mosey over and see if I could help the little lady with the problem.

I suggested cooking the meringue for a little longer and even raised the temperature a bit to coax the moisture out of the meringue. Nothing worked.

As this pie was destined for a family gathering - her mother included - she was crushed that it wasn't working. She prepared it as well as she could and, as her parents arrived - removing their rain gear as they entered the house - she felt the need to pull her mother aside and confess the challenge she was facing. I was there for moral support.

I had thought, since the temperature and time adjustments, about various chemicals I'd been reading about and other sneaky ways of coaxing moisture out of the meringue after it had been partially cooked. As I pondered all of these elaborate solutions, I watched as she whispered the challenge to her mother. Before she had finished explaining the problem, her mother - in a less hushed voice - dropped some wicked food science wisdom on her, "You can't make meringue in the rain."

Her response was hardly the scientific one I had been formulating, but she was abundantly and frustratingly correct. A much bigger force was putting extra moisture in the air.

I learned a valuable lesson that day. My hunch is that she learned that lesson long before I began cooking; or eating for that matter.


Derek said…
Ahhhh. We must all learn that our mothers and fathers and even more so our grandparents are right for so many reasons that our arrogant little brains can't yuet admit to. OH and we should all read the Farmers almanac too.

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