My limited, and very humble, cooking experiences have never involved a pressure cooker. However, I do understand a little about how they function and why they are used. For many dishes, it suffices to permit the steam generated by cooking to pass out of the cooking vessel, and permit the food to otherwise be finished by ordinary methods of heating. But some recipes require that the food be cooked in a more intense manner: the steam that might otherwise be released unused into the indifferent world are instead contained under pressure, and that pressure in turn forces that steam back into the food, to provide an especially deep, internal, and unremitting form of cooking. This is all just physics, lacking the resources and the motivation to attempt such recipes, I’ve no idea what the process or products actually look like. My motivation for mentioning it is quite different from culinary compositions.
Cooking is often used as a basis for metaphors for human psychology. For example, a person who is “fried” or “baked” is someone who is exploring better living through chemistry. “Scrambled” is great for eggs, but speaks to a chaotic and disorganized state of mind in a person. Steamed vegetables have a happy crunch, but a person who is steamed is likely to be poor company. So the effect on the person is often taken from the effect on the food, rather than our enjoyment of that effect. (Presumably, the vegetable derives no joy from being steamed.) But the usefulness of such metaphors is always limited, and sometimes just genuinely wrong. Such can be the case with pressure cooker images. Continue reading