Serious Eats: Talk

On "Optimization"

Is it possible to over-think ourselves in search of great food? (Can oatmeal even be a "great" food?)

Case in point: to make this morning's oatmeal, I began agonizing last night over whether I should soak (or ferment?) the oats overnight. Should I use miso, or whey from yogurt? Oat-straw tea? Should I sprout living oats and have them sit in the soaking oats for enzyme activity? Should I cook them in water? Milk? Milk enriched with browned milk solids? Cider? What sweetener should I use? Spices? Toasted with the oats, or added after? Butter? Cream? Mascarpone? Should I just use spices and ingredients traditional to oatmeal (Irish tradition? American?) Are there polypharmaceutical properties in what seems to be the classic pairings, such as cinnamon (why does this go with oatmeal? Coincidence? Congruence with some botanical in the oat's environment?) and nutmeg (like the spices and fats in Indian cuisines, for example) and brown sugar, maple syrup, malt syrup, or a mix? Top with fruit and nuts? Fresh - what's in season, should it be cooked? Dried? When should I have added salt?

My question is: what's your process? How do you make or choose a recipe? Does the "best" choice even exist for you? Do you know where I'm coming from, or do you think I'm missing the point?

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