Kim Severson of the NYTimes wrote yesterday of recent trends toward efficiency in the kitchen, in efforts to reduce food waste at home. I’ve been told that being an expert of re-purposed food carries a certain culinary clout; it is a status-marker of the contemporary cook.
I get why this article has received so much buzz, and why, too, “Otherwise, Trash” has garnered attention over the years. But attention primarily to food waste misses the larger point. Frugality might energize our creative efforts, but, at Purple Kale, I see this perspective as part and parcel of the investigative exercise that is, simply, Good Cooking. Seeing food for its fullest possible uses, asking where it can lead, is part of a larger program meant to teach cooks how to put food, not dishes or recipes, first. “Otherwise, Trash” is rooted in Purple Kale’s ingredient-driven approach that places primacy on flavor and process, one where ingredients that are “trash,” often play a pivotal role in the flow of culinary ideas.
In other words, “Otherwise, Trash” illustrates a point about the vast possibilities of individual ingredients, not just what’s left over. An approach that asks “what else can leeks do?” and “how far can this potato take us?” is basic resourcefulness—just good thinking. It is a habit of inquiry that will outlast political support for sustainable cuisine or fads of frugality, especially in cooking moments that aren’t bursting with trendy possibility.