The Uncertainty Mindset 2019-2020

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#22: The uncertainty of poultry

Vaughn Tan22nd January 2021 at 1:57pm

This issue is about affordances, uncertainty, ingredients, design—and how these four things interact in the making of, among other things, great pizza.

There are many average or competent pizzas made with well-understood, reliable flours, sauces, and topping ingredients. Working in established ways with well-understood materials is a way to circumvent the experimentation and failure involved in trying to learn new affordances: new ways to work with materials. But it rarely, if ever, produces Great Pizza.

Doing the work that teaches a cook about a material’s affordances is not only about access to transcendence. More practically, it also provides opportunities for innovation. In the context of food, new dishes become possible when a previously unknown affordance for a known ingredient is discovered, or when the affordances of ingredients that have never been used before are discovered. Using population wheats are one way to stimulate this kind of discovery.

Real innovation results from the arduous, uncomfortable, and failure-prone process of discovering new affordances—and there are practices which make it more likely that such processes take place. This is true not just in cooking but in the context of any innovation effort.

You can find it here: #22: The uncertainty of poultry