While preparing brunch yesterday, I gave myself a nasty cut with the kitchen knife. It was a small one on the left middle finger, but it was a bit deep. Friday mornings in Arab country is the worst time to get injured, because all stores are closed for prayer until the afternoons (especially when you did not have the good sense to stock up on some gauze and antiseptics). So whilst I was bleeding on a small towel waiting for the pharmacy to open I thought about my cooking.
A very good friend of mine recently got married, and has also launched a new blog wherein she writes about her baking and cooking exploits. In the blog she explains the she was introduced to the basics of baking at a young age, with her classy mom who makes their birthday cakes herself as suppose to buying them from the famous patisseries, thus passing on the necessary skills in the culinary arts to my friend, enough to have the credibility to write about it. And in that aspect I envy her, and have no doubts she will be posting great foodie posts, not to mention how happy I am for her Mr. who will be served delicious meals.
I on the other hand, was also domestically trained by Mom, but in a very different way. My mom was busy with work, so instructions always came in a form of a note which I will find in the morning long after my mom left for work or when I get home from school. On the note would be a detailed enumeration of how to cook the night’s dinner, a list of what I needed to buy, and of course always signed “luv u mommy”. Attached to the note is the exact amount of money I needed to get everything I needed.
Another important detail I would like to mention is that back then money was always tight, so the choice viand would normally be the kind that would cost, at least 50 pesos. That’s about a dollar or ½ Omani Rial. So you can imagine how un-wide my choices were. The simple point I am making here, is compared to most wives – am not a good cook. As a teenager I did not find this a problem because I had dreams of becoming an independent career woman who would be eating a big sandwich standing by my kitchen sink, so cooking would not be needed, plus I have grown to love the meals my Mom had taught me to cook, no matter how experimental or rudimentary they are. But funny how life turns out, who knew I was going to find myself a homemaker?
At present, the issue of “What’s for dinner?” is usually the source of irritation and occasional quarrels in my otherwise peaceful married life. My limited knowledge of kitchen skill, is not very appealing to taste of JG, whom, since we are the subject of how kids were raised was fed by a very doting mother who can cook a million kinds of meals as well. It also does not help, that JG likes absurdist conversations wherein most of the time nothing is settled.
JG: What’s to eat?
Me: What would you like to eat?
JG: Kahit ano (Whatever)
Me: Would you like ______?
JG: Not really, no.
Me: What about________?
JG: (thinks) No. Is there______?
Me: We do not have the ingredients for that….
This goes on and on ‘til we settle for hotdogs or take out.
Nevertheless, as the proverb says “let the wise increase their learning”. Having no job and some free time, I thought it best to sharpen my dull cooking abilities. Especially when I was in Libya, where time was all I got. There I learned to make pies, and many other meals, like Chicken ala King and Charlie Chan pasta. A big help is that I am lucky to be living in this day and age when I can access recipes at a click of a button. JG would request something, a google search later, and it is done, basically all those years of reading my Mother’s notes paid off because I seem to have this honed ability of following instructions. Of course JG liking it is hit-and-miss, but as long as it’s edible and does not look like burnt charcoal, I’d call it a great effort.
And yet still, I am kind of starting to believe that cooking is a skill that you have to love, like my Kitchen Monday friend, I can only surmise that her culinary skills is a combination of all her years of learning from her mom, plus as she says the joy and relaxation she feels when she is whipping something up. I on the other hand was not blessed by both, but am of course willing to take in strife and continue to learn. JG and I do have to eat, and living on take-out is not a very practical way to life both physically and financially. Anyway in four years I believe I have made a considerable amount of progress, that is unless I don’t cut my hand off first…