‘Tis Not Always the Season  cover

‘Tis Not Always the Season

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Finding the right seasoning for a dish is an art and not just a science.





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‘Tis Not Always the Season

Practice Makes Perfect

Finding the right seasoning for a dish is an art and not just a science.

There are some people who make it seem like art and others that, even when they follow recipes by empirical means, just can’t seem to get it right. As such, being a good seasoner is often perceived as a gift. I think it has more to do with politeness and with personality. A few months ago, I discussed my thoughts regarding heat in a dish.

I once read that spicy foods are addictive because of the euphoric sensation one gets after eating them—something about endorphins post-burn. And once you start eating spicy, apparently your tolerance increases.

Spicy Suspects

Spicy Suspects

Personal Experiences

I am not sure if this also applies to salt and aromatics however.

I can’t imagine that something with sage in it gets more appealing as the dosage increases. I would assume one would experience an increased feeling of revulsion, the cause of chewing on large amounts of floral greens with menthol undertones that overpower. Non-merci. An over salted dish is entirely indigestible and will parch you for hours.

That used to happen to me with Vietnamese Pho from those dumpy, but cheap, restaurants on Lower St-Laurent Street in Montreal. But I know some people who really like sage and others who relish brackish soup daily.

The Point of No Return

It appears that the quality of seasoning depends on what one is seasoning with and what one is seasoning.

Basically, there are some fundamental rules, a bit of logic, but then there is also personal tolerance. Thus a recipes’ seasoning is a base by which most people can be guided successfully. In general, there are few issues with seasoning as they are but simple under or over doses that are tolerable.

Unfortunately however, it can at times feel like the bitter natures of certain aromatics that one would think work well turn out to be complete catastrophe. And regardless of what one does, there is no way to make it ‘right’. Some over-seasoning is irrevocable.

Say, When

Say, When

Too Much of a Good Thing

Often in theses cases, it isn’t the burn of too much heat that overpowers a dish.

In those situations, one can generally still understand the flavors beneath, and is willing to adjust for the next time. When it isn’t remediable, it is like the burn of sodium chloride annihilating taste buds and scorching the palate. Just like the kind that one feels after eating too many chips.

It is that reaction that some people get when too much coriander is sprinkled on their dish and an automatic disgust instantly diminishes their hunger.

Always Ask

Always Ask

And ironically, those sensations that people get when something is over-seasoned for their taste, are rather easy to avoid. It means but asking a simple question to those one is cooking for, something along the lines of: “how do you feel about curry?” or “do you like cloves?” If they answer positively, then one should proceed. If they seem to be more polite than enthusiastic, one should avoid and not insist.

Major Transgressions

Attempting to forge something fruitful after a palate transgression is very, very complicated and has very long lasting consequences.

I would give you personal experiences, but being immersed in a new culture, I have had too many to share in one post (andouillette would be a fine example, the thought of additional butter being spread on a slice gateau Breton would be another ). So I suggest you just ask anyone who was forced to eat broccoli as a kid… that seems to be universal.

Food with a Point

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