Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Meeting expectations

One of my early lessons in cooking wasn't about cooking at all, it was about expectations.  My partner asked, "What's for dinner?"

"Spaghetti." I didn't mention I was making the sauce from scratch using fresh tomatoes so it wouldn't be anything like what we usually had for spaghetti. When I served the meal he looked at the plate and said, "What's this?"

 I proudly said, "Spaghetti."

"That's not sauce the way I like it!"

"It's good, try it."

He reluctantly twirled some pasta onto his fork and tasted it.  "It's good, but it's not what I was expecting."

I like spaghetti sauce the way my mother made it and Fern likes his the way his mother made it. Fortunately two small changes turns my mother's sauce into his mother's so it's easy to make. This day I wanted to experiment a little so I tried making it all from scratch with fresh tomatoes.  I think my sauce tasted better than what we were used to but because I had set an expectation and then didn't meet it the food was not enjoyed for what it was. If I had initially said, "Pasta with a fresh tomato sauce." He would have thoroughly enjoyed the meal.

I have seen similar things on tv shows like Chopped where chef's are given a variety of ingredients that must all be used in a dish.  If the chef presents his dish claiming it to be risotto then it had better taste and eat like a risotto or he will be chided for missing the mark.

Food must not only taste and look good, it has to meet the expectations that you have set in the diners. Whatever you are making, don't call it something it's not or it will be rejected.

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