As an egg fan, I loved this Times dining article about a “tasting expedition” of the high- and low-brow egg dishes in New York. As a programmer, there were two passages that stuck out to me about the nature of skill, complexity, and genius behind cooking (and programming):
â€œIn the French Laundry book, no one step is very difficult,â€ [author Michael Ruhlman] said. â€œThere are just so many that it takes technique to its farthest reaches.â€ For instance, Mr. Keller insists that fava beans be peeled before cooking. â€œIf youâ€™re good, it takes 20 seconds per bean,â€ Mr. Ruhlman said. â€œSomeone in his kitchen put a batch of them in the water once it lost its boil. Thomas [Keller] said, â€˜Get rid of those.â€™ That guy didnâ€™t last.â€
This next passage comes after the Times writer and Ruhlman visit Aldea in the Flatiron district to try George Mendes’ “signature Knoll Krest Farm Egg with bacalao (salt cod), olive and potato.”
After we left, I expressed surprise that so much effort went into a dish billed on the menu as a â€œsnack.â€ Mr. Ruhlman nodded. â€œWorking as a chef can be mind-numbingly boring,â€ he said. â€œThe reason dishes are so good is not because someone is a genius, but because he or she has done it a thousand times. They are looking to keep their minds active and energetic.â€
I couldn’t describe programming better myself: no one line is difficult, its the order and arrangement of thousands of steps that make a useful program. And you don’t have to be a genius, but because programming inherently involves repetitive processes, you have to keep your mind alive, and be continuously observant and critical of the patterns you come across.