Sunday, December 29, 2013

Why I Love Cooking

I remember how, as a kid, I had thought about being one of two things: a priest, or a chef. Look where I ended up.

In the late 2000s, I moved out of the house to join a friend and her then-boyfriend to a nice three-bedroom townhouse in Pasig. She was paying most of the rent so I couldn't complain. The moment I stepped into the unit, one of the first areas I checked out was the kitchen, and I'd imagine myself whipping up whatever culinary storm I could think of, even if  the time I had could only afford me enough to make a sandwich.

I love kitchens, moreso the stuff I could do there. Being an art director for Real Living magazine had exposed me to different kitchen designs, and I'd always get secretly excited whenever a kitchen was the subject of the monthly makeover. A mall's appliance center is also a fave place of mine, particularly--surpirse,surprise--the kitchen section. Then there's the supermarket, which I'd sometimes visit even if I didn't have anything to buy. I just wanted to see what was available.

And I also love cooking, something I hardly am able to do right now. Whenever cable television was available, I would catch Anna Olson, Chef Michael Smith, Nigella Lawson or Laura Calder (even if I had never made any of their recipes).

I guess what I really like about cooking, apart from the therapy it provides, is the whole creative potential that surrounds it, especially if you don't have a lot of ingredients to work with. How can I make scrambled egg more interesting? Or vegetable soup? Or basic spaghetti? Even though I had my cookbook phase, I can only recall one instance where I've followed a recipe--a Del Monte Kitchenomics recipe for pochero--to the letter. There was another time when I followed a recipe for ceviche (kinilaw) using cream dory, but I couldn't resist taking some liberties. I added apple cider vinegar and white wine, and was glad that that little tweak proved successful with the relatives.

I'm partial, however, to fried rice and pasta sauces, because there's just so many possibiities with them. What's more, they can be complete meals in themselves with the right ingredients, and there's practically zero wastage.

The downside to all that experimentation, at least for me, is that I can't replicate any successful dish I've done. I've never adopted the habit of going "meta," or having a self-conversation about what I've created, even with my comics work. I know it's important, but I don't know why I've never made an effort. Maybe I relish the spontaneity of it all.

Anyway, I still dream of ruling my own kitchen, not so much to become a kitchen goddess, but a simple creative who loves slaving over a hot stove.

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