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The word gourmet conjours up visions of fine food, wine, pastries, sauces and maybe even formal-wear. It means many things to many people. Wikipedia defines gourmet as follows:
"A gourmet is a person with a sensitive and discriminating palate, and who is knowledgeable in fine food and drink or haute cuisine. The word is from the French gourmet, a valet in charge of the wines. It is often used as an adjective for meals of especially high quality, whose makers or preparers have used special effort or art in presentation or cooking the meal, or for facilities equipped for preparing such meals, such as a restaurant. The term and the practice may have negative connotations of elitism or snobbery, but is often used positively to describe people of refined taste and passion."
For our purposes we consider gourmet to be an adjective describing attention to detail and better than typical results.
Gourmet cooking is often thought of as being only done by highly trained chefs in five star gourmet restaurants. Have you ever wished you could be a gourmet chef or desired to refine your cooking skills? Although these talented chefs are truly masters at what they do, it is also possible to learn the art of fine cooking at home and on your own. Gourmet cooking is fun and is a great way to add a little magic to a special moment. Want to create a perfect anniversary meal for your parents or thinking of getting engaged and want to make it unique? Why not make the occasion unforgettable by adding a little creative touch to a special dinner and make it gourmet? There are some basic elements to gourmet cooking that are true whether you are an experienced cook looking for a new food genre to work with or one just starting out looking to have a little fun with the meals you prepare.
One of the most important things to understand about gourmet cooking is how it is different from that of other cooking. The fist aspect worth mentioning is presentation. The average restaurant will pile food high on a plate taking little care of how it is presented to the customer. Whereas, a chef drilled in the art of gourmet cooking knows that his main goal is to create a dish that looks just as appealing to the eye as it tastes to the mouth. A good chef recognizes the importance of this quality and takes great care and pride in the presentation of his work.
Not only is preparation of the food important but the quality of ingredients is also a key aspect in gourmet cooking. Only the finest cuts of meats are used and are always selected with great care. Every vegetable is selected and cut with precision and great care is taken to ensure that no dish is overcooked or undercooked. This artful presentation of food and attention to detail takes time and is one of the reasons that gourmet food is rather expensive in fine restaurants...you are paying for quality.
It is very important when cooking at home that you follow the directions of your recipe exactly and make adjustments to cooking times and temperatures in the equipment you are using. This is easy to do by following charts and tables easily found in cooking magazines or on the internet. Since many of the dishes are being made in fine restaurants and commercial kitchens, meal disaster might occur if these adjustments are not taken into consideration.
The second thing to remember in making your gourmet meal is to buy only the finest of ingredients and to use exactly what the recipe calls for. Only the best meats and produce should be used and is very important. This will ensure the same results in your meal as the recipe you are copying and will give it the quality only a gourmet meal can provide.
Probably the most important thing to do before attempting to prepare gourmet food is to educate yourself about the techniques and tools used in the dish you are creating. A gourmet cooking class, magazines and the internet are great places to learn exactly what you will need to know in order to get the results you want. Nothing of true quality is created on a whim. It takes time and preparation to get quality results.
Remember, gourmet cooking is an easily learned talent that you can master, but one that is only gained through practice and more practice. It's like anything else in life. The more you put into it, the more you will get back. Plan your meal and take great attention to details and before you know it you will have learned the fine art of gourmet cooking!