Isnt it funny how cooking terms seem to change every few years? Im a fair cook. I can fry up a batch of steak fingers and make cream gravy with the best of them. Of course, one just has to make mashed potatoes with this meal, too. The trouble is, mashed potatoes are now called smashed potatoes. Actually, the experts, whoever they are, say there is a difference between smashed and mashed potatoes. Smashed potatoes, they claim, may or may not be peeled, are thicker, and, well, lumpier. Oh. Ive been making smashed potatoes all along.
Smashed potatoes are supposed to somehow be more sophisticated than the lowly mashed ones. They are often combined with garlic, cheese, sour cream, bacon bits, and a plethora of other things. I saw a chef making smashed potatoes on a TV cooking show. He added mini shrimp to them. I like shrimp. I like smashed potatoes. I just dont think I want my main course mixed up in a side dish. My uncle used to do that. As soon as he got his plate, he would take his spoon and stir everything together. I could never do this. God gave me taste buds, but I dont think he meant for me to confuse them in this manner.
Then there is the term al dente. It means to the tooth, and is a term usually reserved for pasta. The pasta is supposed to be just the teeniest bit undercooked so it has a bite to it. Thats funny. I honestly thought it wasnt done if it wasnt soft. Ive even heard you are supposed to throw a piece of spaghetti against the wall to see if its done. If it sticks to the wall, its done. The problem with that is, I have bad aim. My dog loves it when Im testing my spaghetti.
And whats the deal with the term pasta anyway? What is wrong with saying noodles, spaghetti, or macaroni? It just doesnt seem to be acceptable to say those words anymore. Anyone whos anyone must use the term pasta. Even the terms for pasta sauces have changed. I used to make red spaghetti sauce. Now its marinara sauce.
I mentioned cream gravy. Anyone whos ever made cream gravy is aware you must start with a combination of flour and fat. Pan drippings make the best fat to use for gravy, of course, but other fats will do. My mother taught me to make a paste of the flour and fat, and let it cook, just for a minute or two before adding milk. I was completely comfortable calling my flour and fat combo paste, until I heard a worldly TV chef say it was properly termed rue.
When making a steak finger dinner, one just has to make a delicious dessert to go along with it. One of my favorites is pound cake with chocolate sauce. Now its totally unacceptable to say chocolate sauce. Instead, it is called ganache.
With all these new, sophisticated changes in cooking terms these days, Im really not sure I know what I am cooking anymore. One thing does come to mind, though. I am very thankful God never changes. We can always rely on Him. Hes the ever present, hardy center of our daily lives. He is the main course, our piece-de-resistance.
Copyright 2006 Betty Castleberry
~The author is a retired-early-by-choice RN who lives in Texas with her husband and three parrots. She has a daughter, step daughter, and five grandchildren. She is a published author, and loves to write for the Lord. Email her @
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