Friday, February 10, 2012

Get Your Meez On

How's your meez doing these days? Does it have a nice flow? Okay, I had absolutely no idea what meez is until about three weeks ago. But in Anthony Bordain's hysterical Les Halles Cookbook, he explains, "The absolute foundation of professional cooking, and the most useful thing I can teach you, is the concept of mise en place. As a cook, your 'meez' is your first principle, your belief system, your religion, your Tao."

Well, okay, I'm still not sure what that means but I know I want it. Right?

The fabulous Anthony says, "Get your meez on!"
 Upon further reading, Anthony (we're getting to be on a first name basis, he and I) explains that meez is "the only thing standing between you and chaos. If you have your meez right, it means you have your head together, you are "set up," stocked, organized, ready with everything you need and are likely to need for the tasks at hand. You know where everything is. You know how much you have. (The right amount, of course.) As a result, your mind is similarly arranged, rested, and ready to cook--a perfect mirror of your work area."

So now, understanding meez, how would you say yours is? 

My meez is doing great in some ways, and not so good in others. On the good side, I usually have a meal plan. I go grocery shopping once every week or two. I have a list. I plan for meals. I buy the ingredients for those meals. And then I cook them. I have a little menu board on my fridge and it can usually tell you what we will be enjoying that week. This helps me to remember what I bought all of those ingredients for so that I actually cook those meals!

On the down side, I could definitely be more organized during the actual cooking. Thinking about all of the tools I will need. Setting them out in the appropriate place. Doing prep work beforehand. Really thinking and visualizing my cooking through. Creating a plan.

Good Meez: "Will I cook the sauce, the chicken or the coucous first? What makes the most sense? The chicken needs to be pan-seared and then finished in the oven. If I do that first, I can then cook the couscous and the sauce while the chicken finishes."

Bad, Naughty Meez: "The couscous finished ten minutes ago. I forgot to fluff it with a fork. It's all sticking together and clumping! I guess I'd better season the chicken. Now I can sear it. Oops. The pan's not heated. Five minutes later . . . There. The chicken is seared. Now to put it in the oven. Oops. The oven's not preheated. Twenty minutes later . . . There. The chicken is done. Hmmmmm . . . Maybe I should make a sauce."

For me, one of the greatest ways I could improve my meez is to get started cooking earlier. More time, less chaos.

How about you? How can you get your meez on?

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