And I’m not talking about the herb thyme here,although it does make a lovely addition to many dishes.
In our rush to live a fast-paced life, we are often looking for efficient, ergonomic, time-saving ways to get things done, including our food preparation, service, and dining. In many cases those short cuts are great and hardly noticeable. They get the job done and propel you on to your next task. But sometimes taking the shorter road doesn’t quite cut it. Sometimes you can’t quite put your finger on the problem, can’t quite identify what is missing, but you know it isn’t quite right. When the ingredients and techniques are all there, I find that often the missing ingredient is Time.
A friend of mine and I were recently at a market with a food tasting. The food demo was for a salad dressing that included lots of fresh herbs and other market ingredients. We both tasted it and had the same reaction, it was just not right. I pointed out that it had just been made, and that if it had been allowed to sit for even 20 minutes it would have allowed the mixture to macerate and the flavors to marry. That little bit of extra time added to that recipe would have made all the difference.
Think about making a pot of chili or lentils or anything with beans in it, they are always better the second day! Many cooked concoctions require time to really let the full potential of the flavors come to light.
Vegetarian, Vegan and Raw foodists depend upon time in their recipes as well. On one hand, you are fighting against time to get the freshest possible produce to use in your preparations. There isn’t anything much better than fresh, local, seasonal fruits and vegetables picked at exactly the right time in their ripening cycle and eaten at their peak. On the other hand, many raw and vegan food preparation techniques utilize long, slow methods such as dehydration, sprouting, and fermentation, all of which require a bit of time and patience on the part of the consumer.
The next time you are tempted to do a rush job, ask yourself if you can’t find time to let something marinate, brine, gel, chill, rest, double in volume or firm up. Set a crock pot, make something up the night before, plan ahead and give your cooking the one ingredient you can’t buy at the market – your time.