Wondering why I’m starting to post all these food pictures?
No, I’m not turning into a wanna-be food critic/blog. This is another crazy project, another new journey of learning! Now that my training in law is done and dusted, the next project I want to embark on will have to do with food.
We stuff things into our faces so often, sometimes we forget that food is pretty amazing. Culinary skills are practical, philosophical and artistic at the same time. You either partake in it at least once a day, or cease to exist. Food is human history, literature, geography and wisdom compiled on a dish.
And there are so many memories marinated into the food we eat.
To my mind, cottage cheese transports me to a cold day in my room back in London. There is Jazz playing in the background whilst a gentle rain cleans the foggy air. Coffee, especially in thick concentrations lingering in air-conditioned place remind me of European train stations and airports all over the world.
I want to wield this power to encode not just taste, but also sound, sight, smell and touch for people.
Through this journey, I’ll have to cook at home more often, which at first sight reeks of inconvenience. But it really isn’t. 30 mins of cooking, 10 minutes of cleaning up. At most, a mere hour of your time is required. No problem. You spend about the same time (maybe more) queueing for food, parking and transport anyway.
We’ve been spoilt by convenience here in Singapore. This convenience has made us dependent on hawkers, cafes and restaurants to supply our meals. There is a price to pay for this dependency.
Firstly, there is the literal price – quality and interesting food is expensive. Then there is a cost to our tastebuds. A lot of the stuff sold in hawkers and cafes is heavily seasoned, salted or sugared. These flavours mask our sensitivities to quality, freshness and hide us from new tastes that herbs and fruits could bring about.
Then there is a cost to health. When you make the food yourself, you’re acutely aware how much of an ingredient you are using. Fried chicken skins, salted egg yolks, cakes, ice creams, salts and creams – all this stuff is good, but invisible when the food arrives on your table. Our cafes are coming up with wilder and weirder combinations: salted egg yolk fried chicken, Nutella on fries, fried Mars bars, Mala pasta… it doesn’t take a doctor to tell you that all the e-numbers from food colouring, preservatives, chemical extracts, excessive cholesterol and carbs and nutrient deficient food is not good for you.
When I spent a year in London, I ate exclusively my own cooking. My health improved, I lost weight, I felt sharp and alert and I only fell ill on one occasion. All that changed when I returned home.
I say that all of us should dedicate one day a week at least, to cook for our families. The beauty of getting everyone round a dinner table, with the television off and phones put away, it is an opportune time to find out what’s going on in each other’s lives.
Eating outside is a hurried affair. The proprietor wants to turn a profit, so he assembles your food quickly, serve it to you and hope you’ll hurry away so that there is money to be made from the next person.
When you cook for your family, you understand their preferences, their dietary needs, their allergies and you pay extra care to food safety. Whether it actually tastes good or not, is secondary. With practice comes perfection.
And I’m going to learn it all without a school.
I’ve contemplated classes, but I just can’t afford the time. Even the part-time courses require one full weekday each week. So I’ll approach this the same way as I approached law: through people, YouTube, reading, doing and documentation.
Basically, through any means possible. Learning doesn’t need to come from schools and climax in a certificate. It just needs hours, days and years of doing.
So, I’m going to be documenting the mistakes, the successes, the stuff learned from others and the thoughts that arise. If you’ve got experience and willing to share – please contact me! I need teachers! haha…
Wish me luck!