Flavour, Taste and Sensory Evaluation

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The new food that I tried was a Castello Danish blue cheese, and I included it in a double baked potato, whose recipe I received on the weekend.

Blue cheese has a bad rap, of course. Its smell is too pungent. The taste is too much like a soppy, wet athletic sock. The ripples of distinctive blue mold in the cheese are… MOLD, which is gross. The list goes on.

I enjoyed the cheese, but only in small portions. This is also how I enjoy novelty music from the 1950s and Rex Murphy. It (the cheese) had a mellow saltiness and astringency, that seemed to increase as the portion lingered on my tongue. The cheese had a hint of sweetness, but only at the very beginning.

The smell was less impressive, and was restricted to a salty and musky odour, combined with what I can only label “mold”. The semi-soft cheese was pliable, and would not crumble well when I tried to combine it with the double baked potato mixture.

The blue is, of course, the unique and identifying aspect of the cheese in many people’s eyes. Up close, though, it’s a fairly unappetizing sight: hairy and flaky blue, caked onto indentations within the offwhite cheese.

Beyond its appearance, the musky nature of the cheese stands apart from many other cheeses that I’ve had. Its soft texture clearly lends itself to pureed salads dressings.

One thing that I learned–though on reflection, it should not have surprised me–was the manner in which my taste experience changed when I combined the cheese with the double baked potato.

The potato recipe called for baked whole russets, which were then cut open, scooped out, and mashed with crumbled blue cheese, butter, sour cream, and caramelized onion. The mixture was then portioned into the russet skins, and baked again.

The sweetness of the onions, once they had caramelized, accented the hint of sweetness in the blue cheese (the hint that had been close to imperceptible when I tasted it on its own). The astringent nature of the cheese was masked when combined with these other ingredients, and made the blue cheese far more appealing. I would certainly eat it again.

My youngest brother, who “hates blue cheese” was good enough to try the potatoes, and expressed his approval. My other brother, however, did not enjoy the dish even though he enjoys blue cheese on its own.

The wonder of combining and cooking ingredients, ladies and gentlemen! I’m interested to further investigate the effects of multiple ingredients on one’s perception of the component parts.

In future, I may try an experiment like this with flavours that I enjoy less (salty, ocean-based flavours). For example, I remember walking the shores of the Bay of Fundy, disgusted with the smell of the abandoned dulse (seaweed) littering the sandy floor. But that’s for next time.

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My culinary autobiography

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Hello internet people!

My name is Matt Cohen, and I’ll be here (in your computer screen) documenting my culinary experiences. In fact, you can see me now, smiling to the left of this text.

I am interested in becoming a Chef because I take pleasure in producing for others enjoyable and delicious experiences. While I have been able to do this in the home, I would like to be able to do it on a larger scale.

I do not currently work, nor have I ever worked, in the culinary industry. My experience has been solely amateur. I had the opportunity once to cook for a summer camp, but I turned it down to spend time at a friend’s cottage.  And, lo, there were sunburns…

I cannot yet determine a comprehensive personal philosophy of cooking. I don’t think that I cook in a particularly self-aware fashion but what I can identify is this:
– When cooking at home I would rather let a recipe inspire and serve my needs than cook to a recipe’s specifications.
– I enjoy blending foods and ingredients from disparate regions and cultures, all in the name of producing tasty and even interesting (!) food.

Throughout this experience, I hope:
– to gain a concrete understanding of how and why we cook for one another; and
– to receive suggestions and comments from colleagues that can help shape a well-considered approach to cooking.