Chad’s Glossary of Cooking Terms

This glossary of cooking terms or culinary glossary can be accessed throughout this site. Simply hover over an unfamiliar term (click on mobile), and if it is in the glossary, a short definition will appear. Click that definition for a more thorough discussion of the term.

Check below the list of glossary items to read more about the glossary itself.

How to Cook

Stack of Cookbooks

How to cook _____? An eternal question, at least for those of us who eat.

I discussed Culinary Literacy – or the lack thereof, in a post. The issue has been what to do about it. This is part of my solution. A glossary of cooking terms, directory of cooking techniques, a compendium of food science, or something like that.

The issue raised by recipe and food writers is that people simply don’t know how to cook anymore. I blame the food media, not the people. There are countless cookbooks for beginners. And nearly as many for professionals and experts. But precious few to bridge the chasm. Most of my readers live in that chasm, as do I.

Where Do I Aim my Writing?

If I write as if for beginners, recipes appear needlessly complex, spelling out (repeatedly) the same steps. But in that complexity, they also disguise the underlying principles involved. If we can learn the principles, how they work, how they are applied, then we can learn how a few techniques can be easily transferred from one recipe to another, and, the ultimate goal, into our own food improvisation.

If I write as if for experts, recipes appear needlessly cryptic. Inexperienced cooks won’t know how to execute them. Instead of learning how to apply those techniques across dishes and improvisationally, they are confused and pushed away, in favor of another processed meal from a box.

I want to target aspiring locavores, seasonal diners, and intentional eaters. People who support, and even become part of, their local food system. Who get excited by the offerings in their local farmers’ market, or coming from their own garden. Eating seasonally and locally almost always requires improvisation. So building those skills, bridging that chasm, must become my goal.

Where This Fits

Going forward, I will attempt to identify and refer to techniques used in my recipes, and even regular posts where appropriate, simply by their terms. But to define those terms – and link to the definitions – in this glossary of cooking terms. In time, terms will receive more detailed articles describing how they are done, why they matter, and how to apply them in different situations. And this will become a repository of culinary terms and techniques, cross-referenced with the recipes and discussions in which they’re used.

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