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The Unnatural Cook

a chronicle of weekly meal plans from someone who can't just throw a meal together

Tag Archives: Linear

I haven’t made beef stew in a long time because the one I loved had parsnips and got rejected by the kids. But it’s a new year and judging from tonight’s clean plates, parsnips are in! The recipe is from a 2004 issue of Fine Cooking Magazine in an article that is supposed to teach a ‘formula for creativity’ by which the author means a technique for developing your own recipe. What it really means is that the recipe was out of order and I had to rewrite it. I can’t cook when the instructions are buried in three separate sections, each presented in a different visual style and spread across two pages. Does that make me a linear thinker? What if I am creative and linear? Is that possible?

So much of what is considered creative is based on the idea of divergent thinking – the endless possibility of a thing (say, beef stew). A good cook is supposed to be one who takes the ‘idea’ of beef stew: meat, vegetables, seasonings and comfortably spins variations on the theme. I can’t do that, but I am obsessive enough to save the magazine, index it so I remember where the recipe is, rewrite the recipe so I can follow it, photograph the results, and write about it. Can obsession be a form of creativity? Revisiting a thing over and over until is essence is understood? I’m sort of banking on it. Maybe I’ll call my version, Linear Beef Stew.

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