There are times in the kitchen when a cookbook is your ultimate guide, but there are other times when all you need is the advice of your grandmother whispered over your shoulder to make the perfect dish. In fact, there are many times when Grandma’s advice will actually serve up a better dish than even the fanciest cookbook can concoct.
After all, your elders were 20-somethings once too. They made all the mistakes you did, so they know how to help you avoid them yourself.
In her interview for The Kitchn, this 100-year old grandmother lays down the law of the kitchen matter-of-factly. She doesn’t even pause to consider that her advice might not be applicable in today’s world – that’s because the suggestions she offers are universal.
One of these gems of wisdom, according to Margaret Richtie’s Grandmother is knowing when to follow a recipe and when to not. For her, working in the kitchen is a matter of passion and experience rather than a prescriptive pursuit. After all, not everyone has the same taste! And that’s where her second piece of advice comes in.
“A pinch of salt is a pinch of salt,” Grandma says. Sometimes you can be too accurate apparently. That’s why she recommends tasting everything you create in the kitchen. Clearly this is sound advice. Especially if you don’t follow a recipe to the T (which you shouldn’t necessarily), you’re going to need to be able to adjust as you go along.
However, Richtie’s grandmother explains that the imperfections that you will encounter while you’re learning to become more flexible in your cooking are what will bring your guests closer together. According to her, anything you cook will taste fine as long as you put your love into it. “People have to know you care,” she explains, “Food is sort of incidental.”
That being said, even following well-worn advice must be done with a grain of salt. You will still make mistakes. One time, according to Ritchie’s Grandpa, her Grandma, “Put vinegar in my glass thinking it was apple cider.”
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So you see, life in the kitchen is trial and error. You just have to embrace the imperfections and work to improve them with time and patience.