I have always learned my lessons the hard way. I remember not believing my mother once when she said that the broken glass on the ground was sharp and would hurt me if I touched it. It was and it did. Fast forward 40 years and I still do many things the hard way, but have learned to figure out who to listen to and who to ignore. Case in point:
Yesterday I decided to cook some scalloped potatoes (Gratin Dauphinois in French) for the husband, as he was being very nice and loves potatoes. The classic ingredients for this are simple: potatoes, butter, milk, salt and pepper. The steps aren't any more complicated. Having invested several thousands of dollars into my education and cookbooks (good cookbooks written by people who know what they are doing), I felt confident that I also knew what I was doing. My mistake was to then consult the internet.
I mostly visit the internet for recipes these days to reaffirm my opinion that it is rife with lousy advice from lousy cooks, hell bent on wasting time and money producing awful food. One site I came across made me shake my head and snort. After posting a recipe for scalloped potatoes that contained flour, paprika, cheese and chopped red onion (yes, I know that there are many variations of what people refer to as "scalloped potatoes") the author then wrote these words: "The French version of this recipe is called Gratin Dauphinois and is good for special ocassions, but this version is simpler and easier to make". What does this person think is so complicated about the French version? The heating and seasoning of milk? The cooking time? Layering? Baffling.
The lesson is this: do your research. Start from first principles; if a dish you want to make has French or Italian or Sri Lankan origins, find out how the locals make it. Do your due diligence and find out who wrote a bang up, authentic French cookbook, go to the library and borrow it or, better still, buy it. Stay off the web for recipes because any idiot with an internet connection can have a blog and in that blog, can and will try to convince you that you should put paprika and flour in Gratin Dauphinois! Don't do it. It's nasty.
And, yes. I understand that this is the internet and I am offering up advice, but I know what I'm doing.