Are You an Experimental Cook?

Cynthia Graber, a correspondent for Scientific American, recently interviewed Jeff Potter about his new book, Cooking For Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks and Good Food. (Listen to the podcast here.)

Potter is eager for cooks to bring science back into the kitchen, and Cooking for Geeks, as he describes it to Graber, is an effort to stoke cooks’ curiosity and encourage experimentation. He advocates a process of trial and error, so cooks will not only gain more confidence, but also a greater understanding for why certain dishes turn out the way they do.

This whole concept may be terrifying for cooks who are, at heart, more comfortable following a strict blueprint than forging their own culinary path. In fact, there’s a commonly held belief that many people define themselves either as savory cooks or as bakers, almost as though a thick line divided the two disciplines.

You either like the saltier side of cooking, where you have the freedom to add ingredients and tweak as you go, or you prefer the sweeter side, with its precision and predictable chemical reactions. But I’d venture to suggest a corollary dichotomy, too: between those who prefer the flexibility of cooking without a map, and those who, without a recipe, break into hives and fits of hysteria.

Which kind of cook are you? Do you like to wing it and forge new ground? Or follow the step-by-step instructions of a tried-and-true recipe?

Are you an experimental cook? Chime in below!

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Cheryl Sternman Rule is a widely-published food writer and the voice behind the blog 5 Second Rule. Read all of Cheryl's iVillage posts here.

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