Men are born to answer question. Questions posed by the self in search of "whatever you are in search of" are sometimes very easy to answer since you are the only judge of your answer. If the opinion changes, no one else needs to know what the answer was and you can still get good food on your plate the next day. But there are situations in life when the answer determines what happens next! The very first time as a boy, the questions is asked, is mine better or you prefer it grandma style? Well, if the answer is "yours", then safe. If the answer is grandma's and if grandma was the cook's mother, still safe. However, tip it towards the mother-in-law grandma, then begins the first red eyed look! A little over time, the comparison changes, "do you like it this style or how I make it at home?." Even if the restaurant you are dining in has a Michelin star, and unless you live alone, the answer is always "as in home." The real challenge begins after marriage! "So, how was it?!, better than my mother? better than yours?." As always there is just one right answer and we all know what it is!
Jokes apart, the issue on hand is understanding how to judge food. For a majority part of my life, I have had fireworks in my mouth, complex spices working synergistically to create flavor. The one stand out spice that I have enjoyed in singularity is the chili. Be it red, green or dried, chili has been the one stand out that could be enjoyed without the support of other spices. Almost throughout Indian cuisine, we seldom limit ourselves to the use of once spice. It was this factor which made me judge of European cuisine otherwise in the beginning. However, after 6 years of tongue conditioning in the EU, I have started to now pick up subtle flavors and appreciate the influence of individual spices.
So, how do we judge it then? Taste, visualization, texture, appeal, smell and probably mood. The factors are just innumerable. Sometimes, food tastes good just by a factor of nostalgia or by the understanding of how much the person has put themselves into cooking it. Passion is the answer. Passion in cooking it and passion in each bite. Great food should never put you in a spot where you have to think for an answer. The answer has to be spontaneous, whatever the consequence it might bring about!