These days I’m spending much more time in the kitchen than ever before in my life. Since my kitchen has always been managed by a team of devoted chefs and food experts (to whom I’m eternally grateful) who took care of all the daily cooking and cleaning, I rarely found reason to venture in there. Don’t judge, I may or may not have been a spoilt brat.
When I left home for college halfway across the planet, I was armed with all of two kitchen skills – boiling water and frying an egg. More often than not, cracking the egg itself presented a major obstacle as half the egg would inadvertently end up outside the pan.
It didn’t help that I was surrounded by roommates and friends who were no better than me. We never knew how our meals would turn out, many times they were some of the most grotesque meals imaginable and very hard to swallow indeed (literally!). One time we got together to cook fried rice, it turned into fried porridge. So you can imagine.
On a random night, someone would ask, “So what are we eating tonight?”. And someone else would shrug and say, without even looking embarrassed, “I don’t know, I just put everything in and boiled it for an hour… I think, I’m not sure because I got a phone call and forgot all about it. And when I came back, this is it!”.
I somehow survived my first year of college sharing the cooking with these 6 or 7 other clueless amateurs. Don’t ask me what we cooked or ate. I honestly don’t know. All I can say is that our food pictures would’ve blown any cellphone camera to Mars and back, if cellphones existed back then.
So then, being that I was a student on a shoestring budget, I couldn’t afford to eat out often, and it quickly became obvious I had to either learn to cook something palatable fast, or starve. As it happened, I lucked out and found a new roommate to share my apartment the second year whose boyfriend was a pretty darned good cook and although he didn’t live with us, she had clearly picked up a few recipes from him.
Hanging around the kitchen while she cooked, I learned a thing or two. We took turns to cook on alternate nights and somewhere along the line, I guess my cooking improved. Sorta. It wasn’t the best but it was decent, she never complained, and that gave me confidence.
And those were the early days of my cooking adventures. Looking back, leaving home without the foggiest idea of how to cook was plain crazy. But I got by with trial and error. I guess as long as you (and the poor folks you’re cooking for) are willing to close one eye and pretend your gobs of grub to be gourmet food, it’s all good .
So tell me, do you cook? Are you one of the lucky ones who was born with a spatula in your hand, or did you have to learn the hard way (like me)? Share your cooking story.