Two hundred and thirty one days and 98 Momofuku recipes later and I’m finally done cooking through the book! I admit, there were a lot of detours along the way, but trust me, they were needed. If there’s one thing that grew—aside from my waistline—with this blog, it was my irritation with David Chang.
Don’t get me wrong, Chang is a genius, but it’s one thing to admire a genius and another to try and attempt to re-create his madness. Good thing most of Chang’s madness equals deliciousness! Honestly though, as corny as this is going to sound, cooking through the book was not just a journey through a culinary wonderland, it was also a journey of self-discovery.
At the start of 2010, I was just beginning a year sabbatical from my desk job. I took the sabbatical at the urging of Mike, who wanted me to find my passion. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but much like Chang in his twenties, I knew I didn’t just want to push paper.
The first time I cracked open Momofuku, I couldn’t put it down. I felt drawn to Chang’s story. I could see similarities between us: a love of noodles, a useless liberal arts degrees and a general lack of decisive direction in life. That’s where ours similarities ended. Chang took his love of noodles, ran with it, and now has a restaurant group, a best-selling cook book, millions of dollars and the respect of his peers.
I’d like to say that I too now have a best selling book, millions of dollars and the respect of my peers, but I don’t. That’s not to say Chang didn’t inspire me. I also took my love of food and ran with it, creating a home bakery, a food blog and ultimately, a greeting card and illustration company featuring cute food.
As time consuming and frustrating as it was cooking through the book, I still have to say: Thanks Dave!
A couple of tips for you if you ever decide to cook your way through a book:
1. Start with the more complicated recipes near the beginning of your journey. This may seem counter-intuitive because you’ll want to leave them for when you’re a bit more experienced, but enthusiasm beats experience any day. You can always go back and make a dish again.
2. Don’t sweat the small stuff, because details are just details. Don’t worry if you can’t find obscure ingredients, substitute what you can and don’t drive your loved ones crazy with all day “treasure” hunts.
3. Plan ahead. Lots of recipes in cookbooks take multiple days to complete so if you give yourself a timeline, it’ll make it much easier for you to eat when you expect to.
4. Take breaks from cooking. Eat fried chicken. Get your family to cook for you.
5. Set goals that are achievable. Make sure you have an idea of when you want to finish cooking the book, but also set small goals like today I will buy carrots. That way, when you buy carrots, you’ll feel good.
Tomorrow, the highlights.