Aleksandra Mir

First Edition Project Notes

By Aleksandra Mir
hownnottocook.co.uk, Spring 2009

About the Project / Examples

What is it?
What is the idea behind it?
Who can contribute?
What do I get?
What is the format for my contribution?
How many contributions can I make?
Does everyone get published?
Will my text be edited?
How does my name and personal information feature?
What is the edition of the book?
How do I know I have been accepted?
When does it come out?
Can I spread the word?

What is it?

The How Not To Cook Book- lessons learned the hard way is a limited edition book and art project by Aleksandra Mir commissioned and produced by Collective, Edinburgh and funded by The National Lottery through the Scottish Arts Council and the Esmee Fairburn Trust, UK.

What is the idea behind it?

While the typical cookbook format gives you a recipe for obvious success it does not take into account the many ways in which its execution can fail due to the cook's lack of experience. Based on Aleksandra's personal history of cooking disasters, the project invites 1000 people from all around the world to give their advice of how NOT to cook. With this volume, any reader will be more than well equipped to avoid making the same mistakes in their kitchen.

Aleksandra is interested in how we are taught or teach ourselves through trial and error. By making our guilty failures public we may even be creating an original and subversive form of art, rather than simply be aspiring to obvious and repetitive results.

Collective are committed to supporting new visual art through a programme of exhibitions, projects and commissions. We are producing a series of events, which examine public art in relation to this project.

Who can contribute?

Anyone!

We are asking amateur food lovers and professionals chefs the like to share with us their experience. If you work for or own a restaurant, please list it!

What do I get?

You get to see yourself in print and if you submit an address a copy of the book will be sent to you hot of the press. Also, if you are in Edinburgh, you can take part in the How Not to Cook events with guest speakers.

What is the format for my contribution?

Please read the examples. Every contribution is written in the imperative as a piece of advice to the reader. The length can be anything from one sentence to a couple of paragraphs (250 words max).

The book will be published in English, please write in English (of any standard) if at all possible. Contributions in Italian or Spanish will be translated. Contributions in other languages we will endevour to translate.

How many contributions can I make?

As many as you want.

Does everyone get published?

The first 1000 contributions will be published, as long as they stick to the format above. Your contribution has to be judged as believable, i.e. based on actual experience.

Will my text be edited?

We will make a very light edit for coherency, but leave almost everything as it comes in. We want to hear the multiplicity of your voices!

How does my name and personal information feature?

Texts will be anonymous within the book and can be submitted anonymously. However, names of all contributors who give them will be listed in alphabetic order in the back.

We will not publish your email or postal address.

We need your email so that we can keep you up to date or contact you if we have any questions. We need your postal address so that we can send you the book. If you contribute anonymously we will not be able to confirm any changes to your text or send you the book. Up to you!

What is the edition of the book?

We are printing 2000 copies, 1000 to be given back to the contributors. The revenue of the other 1000 will be distributed by Revolver Books and will pay back for its production. This is a small press limited edition - a treasure for your kitchen.

In September the book will also be available on this site as a free for download PDF file.

How do I know I have been accepted?

We will reply to everyone who leaves an email address, just be patient.

When does it come out?

The launch date of the book is 6th August 2009 In Edinburgh, UK. Please come if you can.

The book will be mailed to all accepted contributors in September. Please be patient. We will not be able to respond to any emails after June 1. With 1000 correspondents, this is impossible.

Can I spread the word?

YES! We want contributions from all around the world. We will accept contributions until we have 1000 or until we have to close contributions to meet the launch date on 1st May 2009.

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EXAMPLES


1 When cooking pasta, do not let it sit and warm in the pot or it gets soggy. Also don't rinse pasta in cold water, this removes the whole point of pasta which is to bind a sauce to itself. An overcooked rinsed pasta can not support anything.

2 When flavoring heated oil with garlic, don't let the garlic brown or the whole meal you are about to prepare will get bitter.

3 When salting, don't pour the salt from the container directly into your pot without holding it in your hand as this cuts the physical relation between you and the food and you are more likely to oversalt.

4 Do not cut vegetables with a very sharp knife when talking to people or answering stupid questions.

5 Do not take out a very hot pie from the oven with a wet cloth. It hurts!

6 When making spicy chai, do not add more hot spices such as pepper and anise than sweet ones such as cardamom and cloves, or the drink will lose its comforting qualities.

7 When making mashed wild strawberry and brown sugar sweet sauce for your vanilla ice cream, do not leave the small pan on the stove and walk away. When boiling, the sugar turns into caramel very quickly and when the sauce bubbles up all over on the stove it is not only a mess to clean up, but an absolute heartbreak.

8 Do not scrape a non-stick pan with sharp objects or things will stick. Also, if you use the sharp object with the nonstick pan it can scrape of the coating and then you are eating nonstick coating with your food.

9 Do not microwave one leaf of kale on "high" for five minutes in order to experiment. It will catch fire, break the microwave glass rotating plate, scorch the inside of the microwave permanently and fill the kitchen with smoke.

10 If holding a squid's eyes firmly while you cut off the tentacles just beneath disgusts you, you can hold onto the tentacles instead while you cut off the head, but since they are very slippery, the chance to cut your fingers increases radically.

11 Never stop stirring a risotto, no matter how boring it gets, or it will not get creamy. Waiting time can only be cut out on TV shows, not in real life.

12 If you are salting the salad with moist sea salt, and you didn't break the salt apart while you are sprinkling with your fingers or you didn't toss the salad very well, you or yours may inadvertently consume a "salt bomb".

13 When popcorn stuffing a turkey, do not assume unpopped popcorn kernels will just pop inside the turkey, they won't, and your Thanksgiving guests will break their teeth. Use popped popcorn if you must.

14 Never walk away from something that is on the stove (see #5), this is worth repeating. An espresso pot is easily destroyed, the plastic handle melted, the gasket annihilated. A pot of covered beans unattended will rattle and shake, spitting hot water everywhere. You may be in another room crediting the neighbors with the racket, but it is your problem, and eventually your scorched beans and ruined pan.

15 Just because you have managed to master a recipe doesn't mean it will turn out great every time. Variability always exists. Ingredients are fresher or less fresh, harvested near or far, and factors such as the happiness of plants and animals are unpredictable and wild. Accept this.

16 When you have totally lost control over a dish, don't keep adding ingredients to cover up your mistake. Take a pause and then start over calm. If there are no more ingredients to use, order in.