Finding Your Culinary Identity Using Fashion's 3-Words Rule
Stepping into the world of fashion, the technique of defining your style with three words, by slow fashion stylists like Alyssa Beltempo or Allison Bornstein, has become increasingly popular. However, it struck me - why not translate this method into our culinary language? I believe just as we express ourselves through the clothes we wear, we also speak volumes through the food we make and eat.
I truly believe that a clear culinary identity can transform your relationship with food, inviting you to experiment more at home in a way that feels authentic to you. No longer are you just cooking; you're expressing, sharing, and communicating with every dish. Like a wardrobe that resonates with every garment, your kitchen becomes a reflection of your soul, tastes, and memories. And with the three-word method, you'll have a clearer path to curating food that's unmistakably YOU.
So, let’s figure out our home cook culinary identity together using fashion's three words!
Step 1: Reflect on Your Everyday Foods
Begin by listing the dishes that you make often. They might be your go-to recipes, or meals that your family requests every week. These foods are the jeans or white t-shirts in your closet. Remember to be real with yourself; it's not about what you eat on special occasions but what you really eat every day, even if such foods are not your favorite.
To illustrate, my week typically features dishes like:
- Crunchy fish frozen in the air fryer, paired with a salad
- A sumptuous raclette burger
- Quinoa with peppers and falafels
- Classic pasta draped in tomato sauce or pesto
- Fluffy omelette accompanied by a fresh salad
- Stir-fried tofu with quinoa
- And often, a simple yet delightful appetizer board with gorgeous cheese
Write down adjectives that come to mind as you think of these dishes. Jot down the adjectives that encapsulate the essence of these dishes or ingredients. The first words that come to my mind are "Mediterranean," "low meat," "fresh," "Italian," and "easy-to-customize."
The first word often feels right for me: I decided to settle for "Mediterranean." It embodies my preference for minimal meat, an emphasis on fish, and a generous splash of fresh veggies. Moreover, there's an innate freedom in my cooking style - I often skip stringent measurements, preferring the joy of intuition. While there's an undeniable Italian influence, I love flavors from all across the Mediterranean, including Grecian inspirations, for instance.
Step 2: Dream About Your Favorite Food
Now, let’s set aside the practical to channel your inner culinary daydreamer. Just as fashion enthusiasts scout Pinterest for style inspiration, think about your last best restaurant order, immerse yourself in cookbooks, food blogs, or your favorite culinary shows. Discern patterns - is there a recurring theme, a cuisine, or a flavor profile that captivates you?
Let’s list them out. For me, a birthday treat is often a rich truffle pasta, simple yet very indulgent. I also love all kinds of cheeses. But if I have to think about the pinnacle of my dream foods? Without hesitation, it is ramen. It's complex, with simple ingredients that have a deep umami flavor. I would love to make it, but I can't bring myself to work hours in the kitchen to achieve it.
Words that could best encapsulate these foods? "Umami" (the 5th taste), "craving," or "mouthwatering." As before, for me, the first one is the correct one: "umami."
What's your second word? Perhaps "traditional" (do you want to integrate your family or country traditions?), "fully homemade" (do you love to select ingredients and never buy packaged?), or "healthy" (do you aim to prioritize your health?).
Step 3: What Makes You Proud of Your Food?
How do you know you nailed a dish or you love your restaurant order? What makes you proud of a dish and why?
-My quinoa, pepper and falafel salad. Why? I am so proud to have created this dish from scratch one night based on what I had in my fridge. It is also a very balanced dish with complementary textures and flavors.
-My crunchy raclette burger. Why? So proud of experimenting with melted cheese in a different way to create a crunchy contrast to your everyday burger.
Here again, try to list some word possibilities: For me, "balance" is key. Finding complementary textures and flavors – from the crispness and acidity to the freshness and depth. I seems I really love to experiment and make a dish my own so “free”, “creative” or “improvised” could also work.
Having a hard time decide? Think about the opposite words: would I rather have a unbalanced dish or a be forbidden to improvise while cooking? I would definitely prefer an unbalanced dish but which I would have fun achieving while improvising with what I have in my fridge!
So there you go: I am a "Mediterranean," "Umami-lover," and "serial improviser" home cook!
What's next? Integrate your culinary three words when planning your next grocery shopping list or when trying a new recipe. Think about how you can infuse elements from your own identity.
For example, a traditional lasagna can become a mushroom lasagna with fresh herbs. Adding something crunchy on top satisfies my need for experimentation.
Stay tuned for my next article, where I will delve deeper and provide practical tips to customize your grocery list based on your three words.
It's essential to remember that while these words act as a compass, they aren't rigid. Your culinary identity, much like your personal style, can evolve. You might find one word replacing another after a memorable trip or a new culinary discovery. Or someday, you might crave something completely different like sushi or a Domino's pizza while wearing that gorgeous evening gold gown you never wear 😊.