4.19.2005

I'm a Culinary Disaster

Sent the maid home for the weekend. My nephew is with his cousins for a few weeks. My brother is out looking for jobs or going out with girlfriend. And my Dad is busy with something … or someone (Hmmmmm!) … or madjong, or chess, because he’s always out. My sisters had to do this church thingy which I had carefully avoided so I am home alone. Grin! Everyone gets home only when it gets really dark which is really great.

No other TVs blaring except the one I’m watching so no competition to noise. I can watch whatever I want without someone switching channels now and then. No slamming of doors – a habit which puzzles guests but which family found too innate to correct. No one there to ask me to do errands. No one there to use the phone so I could use internet without interruption. All is calm and serene without a single entity to disturb the peace. TOTAL BLISS.

Except for one thing. I CAN”T COOK. The maid left some frozen meals stashed and ready, but I had very little appetite for something microwaved. Why don’t I cook? Good question. It all boils down to my first few attempts in the culinary arts. I was hungry and tried boiling an egg. I forgot about it; so the water dried up and the egg exploded on the ceiling. My family never lets me forget that sole incident. Maybe because I was once again tasked to boil water with the same results except for egg on ceiling.

It doesn’t help that when I do try to redeem myself, everything becomes a cooking disaster. Rice either turns out too hard or floating in water. Fried fish doesn’t look like fried fish. More like fish soufflé without the flavor. And when I’m done with the sunny-side-up, eggs looked like they’ve been soaked by a tsunami. I can’t even boil pasta right! even if I follow package instructions word for word.

I therefore gave up all attempts to be domesticated in kitchen. My mom was not a good cook either. She has this knack for developing out-of-this world meals and you have to guess the ingredients so you can swallow her initiative. This is probably why we grew up with a maid in the house and why my mom remained a career woman. My father, however, was a good cook. He makes a mean dinuguan and linagpang. If he does cook on rare occasions, we would choose not eat anything else but dinuguan and linagpang even when there are more delectable fodder to choose from. Cooking was the only talent I got from my mother (apart from love of writing).

My sisters can cook which people find confusing. Why don’t I have the same knack for guessing how much exactly is a pinch of salt? My fish tastes like they have jumped out from the Dead Sea and landed on our dining table. So the bad experiences with cooking had kept me away from the oven. BUT! I have since then improved on rice-cooking although I still worry about putting too much water. I can prepare simple dishes like mango floats because they don’t require a stove or an oven. I tried making green salads but even my knife skills needs training because my carrots look like they’ve been picked from the streets. I did think about cooking schools but with my culinary disasters, I was so afraid I would embarrass myself.

This brings me back to my weekend alone. I realized that I cannot live on breakfast cereals. And I can’t stand another frozen dish (Yes! I am aware that I have to defrost them and heat them in the microwave before putting them in my mouth! I can do that part!).

So I boiled myself some water for instant noodles – not exactly very challenging but if you have fear of cooking, this was One Tense Moment. And I played the guessing game. Had to stop myself from touching boiling water. Is this hot enough? How many bubbles does it take? Drop noodles. Wait for 3 minutes. Separate them with big spoon. Check to see softness by breaking noodle strands. Wait few more minutes. Check again. Pour in colander. Pour in bowl with mixed sauces and powder. Add a squeeze of calamansi for added flavor. Taste. Mmmmm. Not bad.

Armed with my instant noodles, I sat down in front of TV to watch Amazing Race. Surprisingly, it was an enjoyable meal. Not very healthy. But enjoyable.

Today I bought chicken with strict instructions that it shall not be touched by anyone except me. I’m going to learn to fry chicken this weekend even if it kills me!

3 comments:

Vanessa said...

Good Luck!! :)

Outburst said...

Amazing Race is on here tonight. I'm actually hooked on that thing.

The egg on the ceiling was great.
I think to cook, you just need to do it, and often. You'll burn things, you'll ruin pots, you'll be scrubbing food off the walls, but like most things, that's how you learn.
The other day when Missy asked me if she should stray from the recipe for rice and add some herbs, I told her to go for it.
You don't learn to cook by following recipes. You learn by experimenting and finding out what works and what doesn't.
Eventually, you'll have ruined hundreds of meals but you'll also have one or two perfect things you can make for those days when you really need it.

ilongga70 said...

Thanks Vanessa!

Good advice Outburst! Thank you too. Will do that. It's now or never.