Sourcing the Sauce

culinary set isolated on white

Great cooking is always about a great sauce.

Some chefs spend days rendering down a stock made from bones, meat, fish or vegetables, spices and herbs. Often they will claim some secret ingredients that bring it all together as a taste sensation.

But the principle is always the same. It is about taking the time to cook something down to its essence and bringing together just the right ingredients. Where an alchemy has occurred in the chemistry of the mingling ingredients.

Mayonnaise is one sauce where a magical chemistry occurs where two ingredients that never usually mix; oil and water, are blended to create something delicious.

If you mix oil and water without any other ingredients no matter how hard you beat them, they will always stay separate.

The trick is using another ingredient, an ‘emulsifier.’ Egg yolk does the trick. It has molecules that can attach to both the oil and the water, bringing them together as one.

Once you have the oil, the water and the emulsifier in just the right quantities, you can blend a smooth glossy mayonnaise.

People are just the same. Some can have very differing beliefs, attititudes, behaviours and views of life that are like oil and water, chalk and cheese. They just won’t mix.

If you want to create a great sauce or mayonnaise with a group of diverse people, what is the emulsifier?

What can weave people together so they can create something delicioius, something that people will desire, something that will inspire?

What ingredient can connect disparate people?

Where can we find a unity in difference?

I once worked with a group of Māori wood carvers. Their work tells the crucial stories and history of their culture and was at risk of dying out. They came from different tribes that had over the centuries often been at war with one another. Politically, there was conflict over which tribes stories and history took precedence over others.

When the carvers got together, they realised that the further back in time that they went, the more unified their stories were. The stories from the beginning of time were the same. The big stories of the universe, and how the earth and people had evolved were the same. They were about humanity, above and beyond tribal differences.

The same can be said for tribes, cultures, societies and communities all over the world.

What is our emulsifier that can join us all? And at the same time allow us to remain unique and distinct, as individuals and as different cultures?

We still want to taste the different ingredients in a great sauce, but we want to enjoy how it all comes together.

Source the sauce.