This post is going to be about one of the most important, yet rather difficult things to do with cooking: training your palate. This is basically saying, get used to flavors so you can identify them. This is a key piece when it comes to not measuring (I’m terrible about measuring…). It’s essential to know what flavors go into a dish, and what it should taste like. After you find the should you’re more open to experimenting with new flavors for the could.
My tip comes like this: start by smelling. Smell is vast majority of your actual “taste.” This is made clear when you have a cold, and can’t smell anything. After you smell things, I would advise taking the dive and tasting spices in their raw form, not just smelling it. Not sure what basil actually tastes like? Try eating a small piece of a basil leaf. Not sure of the difference in taste between kosher salt and sea salt? Try a few granules of each.
None of this will happen over night, but the process isn’t as grueling as one might think. Try tasting, try smelling, and then try to pick out what is missing. Always take a smell of the spice you are using before you use it. This will help to continue to trigger your senses to know what you are about to put in.
Training your palate is a very rewarding practice, because you will understand flavors far better, and more complexly than without it. My only word of warning: the more I understand flavors, the more difficult it is for me to eat food from restaurants :(. Between knowing how to cook, and knowing how to spice, you learn quickly what places don’t do it terribly well. This is another reason I have a hard time with places that sell pasta.
Confused on a term? Refer to the lexicon!