Thursday, May 21, 2015

White Truffle Oil

I watch a lot of cooking-based reality shows.  Some of them have professional chefs while others feature amateur cooks.

Every now and then the amateurs will have access to some really fancy ingredients such as caviar, lobster, black truffles, saffron, etc.  Some of the cooks will go nuts with access to these fancier items, which almost always backfires.  They tend to either use nothing but the fancy stuff which means there's no real substance to the dish, use an ingredient so much that it's overpowering, or mask a fancy ingredient so much with other seasoning.

White truffle oil is an ingredient that marketing has elevated to "high quality" but is seen by a lot of chefs as perfumed garbage.  Still,  that marketing makes many people want to use it, which then can poorly affect - if not ruin - a dish.  The failure is in the idea that one ingredient will make the dish good, when it's how you use all the ingredients and where the balance is.  It's funny to watch judges watch a competitor grab the truffle oil, because they can't hide the look of worry and/or dread at the anticipation of having to taste it.

This is also something that happens with taiko compositions.  As in, there's so much you can do with a brand-new song idea!  So many ingredients!

Let's take meter, for example.  You can have a 4/4, or common time meter (white rice) to 7/4 (risotto) to 3/8 over 9/4 (lavender-infused dehydrated rice "essence").  Now, that rice essence, whatever that is, might be damned interesting when done well.  But will you want to eat it all the time?  Think about how many times you've had something over rice.  The rice isn't exciting - and doesn't need to be - but it gives a solid base to showcase the other flavors and textures on top of it.  Also, you can put nearly anything on top of plain white rice, where as infused rice essence is pretty limited in what you can pair with it.  If it's not done really well, then the entire dish could be unappetizing.  

Let's also take movement.  Staying stationary behind/next to the drum for the whole song is like iceberg lettuce.  Arm movements in simple shapes (up, down, circles, etc.) would be romaine lettuce.  Moving around a bit but with simple-to-moderate difficulty would be microgreens or arugula.  Bachi twirls and flips, intricate poses, complex choreography - that's like having a kale/chard hybrid with a Meyer lemon infusion.  Just like the paragraph above, think about the salads you've eaten.  Would you want a whole bowl of the fancy-strange stuff?  More likely you'll appreciate that in a smaller size  and enjoy the simpler greens as the base for your meals.  You may learn to appreciate the unusual new flavors, but a bowl full of them overwhelms the palate and becomes unappetizing.

I love all the creativity in new pieces, but sometimes it feels like the focus is about the attention-grabbing moments which, when sprinkled liberally throughout a piece, lose their punch and become so much "noise".  Moments are powerful when they are moments...and not minutes.  Simplicity is underrated as a vessel to showcase the truly cool stuff in a piece.  This is just my opinion, but hey, it's also my blog.  :)

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