Our Foodie Friday Fun this week is centered on aging. I realize that the topic of “old food” might not seem very appealing, but the reality is that you want some things to be old. OK, I guess “aged” seems a nicer way to put that.
Very few red wines, for example, are meant to be consumed “young.” Spare me the lecture on how winemakers these days can regulate the tannins to make reds drinkable not long after vintage. Really good reds need some time to mellow and develop flavor.
You’d rather eat “old” (read aged) beef. Most great steakhouse dry-age beef. They expose big cuts to air so dehydration can further concentrate the meat’s flavor. It’s expensive: the meat loses weight from dehydration, and it also must be trimmed of its completely dried exterior before cooking. The process develops flavor and allows enzymes naturally present in the meat to break down the muscle tissue.
We eat “new” cheese – there is nothing better than fresh mozzarella di buffala. That said, one cheese place I go asks you what you’re doing with the mozzarella (eating it as is or cooking with it) so he can give you the cheese of the correct age. Older, drier mozzarella is better for cooking, after all. You wouldn’t want to eat most other great cheeses right after they’re made.
So why all the thinking about old food? Because there is something to be learned from it that can be applied to business. We live in a time when things happen really quickly. There are tons of new ideas that become new businesses. There is a lot to be said for letting those ideas age a bit before acting on them. I realize that sometimes there is a limited window of opportunity, but think about how often we put out version 1.0 of something (and I mean that in a broader sense than software) only to realize we could have made it better or found more bugs. Had we let the product age, it probably would have been better.
We do that with people too. We cherish the new (read young). Speaking as a veteran (aged!) executive, we tend to have broader perspectives that have been formed through both success and failure. While it’s often said that one business or another is a young person’s business, most of those young people have older advisors, especially in their early and mid stages.
I know that foods have expiration dates and that they become unpalatable if not inedible. A little aging – a little time – does, however, seem to help most foods and ideas. Let that thought age a bit…