Right after a chorale concert, I decided to go around a nearby mall. I was undecided whether to shop or just eat something for dinner. But my stomach had to be obeyed. Again, I was still going around for the best food I really wanted to eat. And I ended up at this pancake corner. I was still battling between a rice meal or just some pancakes. But just as I was about to take one particular rice meal in mind, the pancake house’s Christmas pancake special came into sight. Being explorative of things, I opted for it, and I never regretted every single bit.
The Hawaiian Eggs Benedict is Pancake House’s Christmas special, which when ordered will surprise anybody with a postcard entitling him or her to one cup of brewed coffee in the next visit. That was really convenient, I thought. And so came the tasting part….
The pineapples on this sides didn’t look quite appealing to me. It was rather sauteed until it turned brown, darkened brown. I tasted a bit, and the taste was just what I expected. It was a little bitter to be eaten alone. But then I thought I should take a bit along with the honey-mayo, the pancake, the sunny side-up egg, and ham in between, just like the how the connoisseurs do on TV. And magic just happened. It tasted really, really good. A must try at Pancake House for this season, I must say.
It was like food culture epiphany to me. It was enlightening in laggard manner. I have always loved cooking and tasting food. I know in particular what common ingredient may have been mixed in a pasta or any kind of dish. Cooking to me was rather an art, a form of expression and experiment. It wasn’t like the detailed, by-the-book kind of activity. It was rather a hobby. It stopped when I started working, but I still have that gusto for food.
While watching chefs on TV, I always envy that they get to mix everything as they wish. I thought I could simply toss anything into a pot and, voila, food is served. But the pancake experience I had was rather a nudge to myself that cooking is more than just categorically knowing what sweet, salty, sour, or bitter is. In cooking, it’s an array of tastes, different and million ones. There are gradients of tastes and flavors even. It’s a whole spectrum, and for the food expert, it’s more than just an art. It’s mastery and precision. One has to know the taste and flavor before mixing, and such mix should blend well.
In the case of the Hawaiian Eggs Benedict (an innovation and creation new to my palate), it was rather a wise inkling to just mix everything. The pineapples were not for garnishing. They served to add that kick in the whole taste. The pancake solidifies the meal, creating the foundation of the food concept. The ham is the meat and core. The egg compliments the ham and pancake. But here’s the interesting thing: the honey-mayo was the binding element. These sauces are not merely sauces. They are the unifying element in the food. With them, the whole meal will not just work.
To me, cooking and tasting, even eating with food culture isn’t that simple. It involves the complexity of the food assemblage. Food, both in cooking and tasting, always has a philosophy behind. Any chef can attest to that. Some may seem so comfortable mixing because, probably, because they have done the cooking all these years, and doing so blindfolded is never a challenge. The aroma, the texture, the taste, and the way everything is incorporated altogether are all behind food.
Next time, before plunging into some hearty meal, a good sniff and determination of the ingredients won’t take up much time. By doing so, one gets to preview the meal and understand fully why ingredients and the meal were put together.