Cook By Color

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Salute your 21 Seasoning if you don’t regularly improvise in the kitchen, if you don’t fully trust yourself with dash-to-sprinkle ratios, or if you prefer interacting with onions when they’re in powdered form. Now salute yourself, you gorgeous chef.  It’s okay that you approach the stovetop with one hand on your heart and one hand on your recipe. You trust what works, and there’s no shame in that; women everywhere do it. We all fill our grocery carts with the same key essentials week after week and use the same three spices meal after meal. We make what we’ve made before because it’s tried and true –friend-tested and fool-proof, and we aren’t bothered that everything we make tastes more or less the same. Often, our process from preheat to plate is so automated, our signature dish is ready before we can sound out Pâté lorrain.

While it’s valuable to celebrate ourselves, and perhaps our shortcomings with French cuisine, it’s even more worthwhile to celebrate opportunities to explore and branch out in the kitchen. It can be fun to splinter off from what we can assemble on autopilot and ignore how busy we are tending to important matters like work, love and the Internet of things.

But frequently our zest for trying goes sour and we need a really compelling reason to forgo our faithful seasonings in favor of those naked glass jars at the back of the rack. Coriander, anise, caraway seeds, cloves, fennel, chili powder from Latin provinces, saffron strands, cream of tartar, Chesapeake bay seasoning … these far too often go untouched, unified in hope of experimentation.

Et viola, a reason to step out of the ordinary: you’re about to host a color palette potluck.

Consider it an investment in your creativity and get some friends together for a new, daring experience.  This get-together will be an aesthetic and gastronomic adventure––a far cry from predictable office and block party potlucks where break-and-bake cookies appear as sides. As the hostess, you and the three, four, five or six colors you choose will become a vessel that sponsors an exodus from cooking comfort zones everywhere.

As the hostess, you and the three, four, five or six colors you choose will become a vessel that sponsors an exodus from cooking comfort zones everywhere.

To begin, think about your mood. Think about your joys, cravings, guests and your intersecting futures. Think about the weather and the interplay between your home and your heart. What colors come to mind? What shades stand out?

Collect those shades in a palette and send out your potluck invitations. In doing so, you’ll assign hues to open doors and challenge your guests to combine ingredients, sheens and textures they might normally neglect. Through color, you’ll sponsor possibility, and under your jurisdiction no one will cook just for cooking’s sake. Instead, inspiration will flow like mulled wine at Christmas time and an air of encouragement will urge everyone to try, test and tamper with new things –to stop, think and bypass those beloved signature spices for something brighter than All Spice.

Of course, there’s no way to know for sure how the colors you’ve chosen will be interpreted. One guest may see your swatch of Green and think salad while another goes straight to split pea soup or stuffed green peppers. Yet, so what if your palette bears four completely different rice dishes or a dozen jewel-tone desserts? There’s humor in seeing how proportionately the palette is represented, and beauty in seeing the pieces of your meal coalesce with synergy.

Such cohesion is the goal of your potluck. As hostess, you’ll establish an environment of co-creation and collaborative consumption. You’ll take your guests on a bold expedition away from the ordinary, and unlike traditional potlucks, yours will be a collective affair where every dish brings something out in another.

As hostess, you’ll establish an environment of co-creation and collaborative consumption.

Check out the example below for palette and recipe ideas.

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Recipes: 1/2/3/4/5/6

Images via Color Collective and Nicole Varvitsiotes

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Nicole Varvitsiotes is a writer living in San Luis Obispo, CA who considers herself a joy scout and plans to run a half marathon on every continent before her time is up. She’s always tickling the ivories and dreaming up themes for the next dinner party she'll host, and can be found tweeting at @waveparader.

1 COMMENT
  • Allessia January 24, 2014

    Such a fun idea! I’ll defs be hosting a cook-by-colour dinner party soon!

    xo

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