Now, if you know me, you know that I know my way around a kitchen–or so I thought! Recently I had an experience that made me question this knowledge. I was visiting the CIA–that’s the Culinary Institute of America, not the Central Intelligence agency (though a visit to their kitchen would’ve been equally as interesting). In this sound clip I ask a student chef what he’s making…he casually says, “a mirepoix.” “What’s that?” I ask? Then, he kindly explains, but what you can’t hear in the audio clip: he does a double eye roll before that explanation. A sting to the heart–I’ve lost all my foodie cred!
In case I wasn’t the last to know…a mirepoix is basically a mix of carrots, celery and onions–it’s a base for all things stock to casseroles. And this base is different all around the world. Oh Wikipedia, always there when you find yourself stupefied, which happens a lot more than I’d like to admit…
Similar combinations, both in and out of the French culinary repertoire, may include leeks, parsnips, garlic, tomatoes, shallots, mushrooms, bell peppers, chilies, and ginger, according to the requirements of the regional cuisine or the instructions of the particular chef or recipe. The analogous soffritto (frequently containing parsley) is the basis for many traditional dishes in classic Italian cuisine, and the sofrito serves a similar purpose in Spanish cuisines. In Cajun cuisine, a mirepoix or (jocularly so-called) “holy trinity” is a combination of onions, celery and bell peppers.
Another thought inspired by the sound of chopping (by the way, can you hear in the sound that he’s chopping celery? Take another listen if not, I bet you’ll recognize it now.)…Are there cuter chef outfits out there? Well I investigated, and yes indeed there is some fun culinary fashion!
Though in my kitchen I prefer this route…
Did you know about mirepoix?
PS: I was at the CIA to record this piece.