Runs on food and music, will sing for chips and pasta.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Romancing Life: To cook

Ever since the time I started cooking more regularly at home, after been nagged many 
times over by my friend and colleague,Tay Cher Siang (“How hard it is to keep food at home 
and make a simple noodles?”) - I found myself getting addicted and attached to the act of 
feeding myself - it makes me feel more responsible and useful as an adult who lives 
alone: Someone who is mature and a professional who shows up at rehearsal with 
her pianist, focused and sans hunger :)
I have also come to realise by myself, how sexy and romantic it is to have a routine of
cooking at home and feeding myself; that I am directly involved in the act of caring for
my own basic welfare (besides washing up and grooming) - the act of self-love. I just find
that incredibly romantic. Now who says romance of life always have to have two persons
in it?

Hah, and the poignancy or irony of it - having to grow up and live alone for more than
10 years, having starved many mornings and afternoons to come to this realization in my late thirties.

You see, cooking was not taught to me at home as an important skill/part of being a
good person , or as a successful individual. I was taught to be a good person by studying
hard in school and help mom around the kitchen by helping with the washing. But having
said that, I cook now, whoever late I started - better late than never.
My new lifestyle has given me endless joyful discoveries, not to mention that working 
in the kitchen has been one of my most treasured and therapeutic activities. Sometimes 
it is the one thing I look forward to at the end of a long stressful or tiring day (of course on 
some days I could only step in and head straight for the bed) - cooking helps me relax and destress. 

I love cooking when:

I want to reward myself of going to bed early to wake up feeling rested and ready for a
new day - a big breakfast of vegetables and carbohydrates and protein.
When I've done an hour of two of highly brain-juice draining desk work or music work - 
I give my brain a break by figuring out how to make a new simple dish I saw on social media videos. 

I get home from a vigorous gym workout or rehearsal - I reward my work by giving myself a satisfying meal cooked by me - just the way I like.
Friends come over for chit-chat or colleagues for work - feeding my peers help us bond 
And it humbles and delights me that I am capable of both entertaining a large crowd with 
my singing as well as entertaining my own company with my own cooking. I started 
keeping a photo diary of what I cooked or prepare at home, and post them on my social 
media. Friends would respond to them by commenting how pretty they look, and 
that they wish they have the luxury of doing the same. Many of them say,
"I just have no time la."
I've heard it many times over and sometimes I am convinced that I am just more lucky 
than them. But deep inside I believe they just need more conviction to take responsibility 
in their time management and priorities. Once, when I was standing over the basin 
washing some vegetables for a quick stir fry - a thought came to me - the irony of our 
modern life:
How is it that we have come to live in such a way that we are so convinced that we can't
afford to spend time on the single most important act that sustain us as a living thing and 
the one thing that gives us possibly the most happiness? Eating.
"Says who? We love food and we spend lots of time figuring out where to eat the best food.”
True - as a nation of people who live to eat, we take a lot of trouble to feed ourselves good 
food, in the restaurants, more so than taking more responsible in preparing our own good 
food at home. We are cooking less and buying more prepared meals, and yet we are at an 
age where we spend more time watching others cook on TV shows. In my own culture, 
successful does not mean affording a world class chef to make my meals. Rather,
successful means being able to make time, to afford time (little bit of planning is required,
but much less than what you think) to spend time in the markets and kitchen to make my
own meals.
Anyway, whatever I've felt in my little kitchen about the romance of life, on humanity and 
our detachment to the most important act of being a human: cooking food - has already been thoroughly researched and eloquently argued by Michael Pollan, American author, activist
and journalist on the subject of history of food, modern food farming and modern living.
Everything that I have come to feel so strongly about in the last 2-3 years of feeding myself 
(self-love, and health), and more - are all beautifully narrated in his books 
[The Omnivore’s Dilemma], [Cooked - A Natural History of Transformation], 
[In Defence of Food], [The Botany of Desire], [Food Rules].
If you are not planning to go out and read his books today, I urge you to at least spend a 
few minutes to think about this: what can you for yourself that makes you feel loved and 
For me, it starts from the minute I wake up on my bed, knowing that I could start my 
working day without feeling hungry before I leave my home to face the world - because 
I can feed myself in my own kitchen.
Here are some links that might stir your desires to learn more:
How Cooking Can Change Your Life:
Netflix trailder of Pollan’s TV series [Cooked]:

Food Rules for Healthy People and Planet:
In Defence of Food series: