Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Home cooked meals are usually prepared by the lady of the house, until late last year when the thought of food made her retch. So I had to step up to the plate, literally, and have been the household chef for half a year.

My second office

The last time I did any sort of regular cooking was during uni days in Scotland and even then, we were more like line cooks putting out dishes from a small deli with a very limited menu. Every evening my housemates and I will all take our places in the kitchen/pantry and automatically carry out our roles - there will be a fella to chop the garlic, onions and sausages (we put sausages in a lot of things), peel the potatoes (if necessary), prepare the chicken (toughest job I think, because its always frozen) or cook the rice (hmm...I don't remember ever doing this). For one year, we ate more or less the same thing over and over. I didn't mind.

This dish turned out messier than I expected...

Now that's something my wife finds hard to accept. She yearns for variety in her meals and it shows in her cooking, she has never cooked the same dish in the same way twice if she can help it ... and its a good thing I can eat almost anything. So I felt the need to reciprocate and tingle her taste buds.

Initially it was hard for me. The focus of my cooking was 'I hope it is edible'. Or 'God, let there not be food poisoning'. After a while, I started getting better at organizing the workflow and deciding how I'm going to attack the ingredients and transform it into a nice meal. Only then did I think about other things like trying out new ingredients and giving thought to the presentation.

I didn't expect to say it but I enjoy cooking. I was thinking of handing the portfolio back to my wife after the delivery and all, but I'm thinking otherwise now, maybe we'll take turns. I love planning the meals for the upcoming week, looking for new recipes to try and especially seeing the finished product, whether it succeeds or fails.

I've been thinking about why this is so. Maybe its because I work in the service industry, where you clock in at a certain time and then use a few liters of your saliva throughout the day. Then close, recuperate and repeat the next day. For all the efforts put in, the results are intangible and usually only a figure on a piece of paper at the day's closing report. Also the amount of saliva used is NOT PROPORTIONAL to that final figure.

It's different when doing the things I enjoy - lets say photography.
1) The result is tangible. It can end up as a printed photo in a frame or photobook.
2) The result is proportional to the creative input. It also inspires more intrinsic learning and researching to improve that result.
3) I have complete autonomy over the whole process...this last one being one of the most important.
Sounds very much like cooking then.

That's not to say making money from your saliva is a bad thing, but I do realize that I'm subconsciously seeking a balance. And its not about one being work and the other play, photography and cooking can be either work or play. It's all about the mindset then. Bon Appétit!

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