A Culinary Piece


Today I inspected vegetables, weighed dressed chicken, read the label on a bottle, decided between buying four 270-gram packs of vermicelli noodles or buying two 500 gram-packs. Three plastic bags and thirty minutes later, I’m back home. In no time, my figurative chef’s hat is on top of my head and my hands are ready to work.

I chopped, boiled, sliced, diced, sautéed, mixed plus almost all the verbs you read in cookbooks. A confession: I fall into a trance while cooking. Our neighbor could be shouting “Fire!” and I probably wouldn’t even notice. I barely spoke a word while I stayed in the kitchen, with my mental and physical energy funneled into the pots and pans.

In the heat of the kitchen, I made three discoveries: (1) My eyes have already grown immune to the sulfuric acid in onions. Surprisingly, they didn’t sting anymore while I was chopping onions (“Look Ma, no more tears!”). (2) I need to buy a can opener soon. I searched our drawers and couldn’t find a working one. I had to open a can of pineapple chunks using a knife (Successfully, if I may add. “Look Ma, no blood!”). (3)Two hours of ingredients preparation plus 30 minutes of actual cooking time will make me secrete a gallon of sweat which is probably equivalent to three hours of weightlifting, using the treadmill and stationary bike, and doing aerobics in a gym.

Cooking, in some ways, is like writing. A creative pursuit, cooking also demands an investment of passion and critical thinking. Even before the cashier scans the code of the first ingredient, I should already have committed myself to the completion of the piece er. . . dish. If I am mindful about including a sentence in a paragraph, then I should be equally vigilant about an ingredient making it into the pan.

Several hours after my trip to the grocery, I finally enjoy the sight of my family eating. We’re celebrating my sister’s birthday two days early and I offered to cook for her. On hindsight, I realize it’s been a while since I last cooked (That is, not counting the three-minute instant noodles I occasionally “cook” for my nephew Pong).

If in my dreams Martha Stewart would ask me what’s the best seasoning I’ve ever used, I wouldn’t say salt and pepper. Not even curry, oregano or ginger. I’d tell her anybody could make a spectacular dish, just add a generous sprinkling of love.

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Comments
2 Responses to “A Culinary Piece”
  1. Ruben says:

    Sarap, Beng. I’m glad you enjoy cooking and had the chance to do it again, after a long time. You know I enjoy eating so if you or Publications need help…Hehehe.

  2. Beng says:

    Hi Ben, Yeah sure, drop by one of these days. You can come celebrate Joan’s birthday with us. Ate Yna and I are thinking of an Ice Cream party. 🙂 I’ll text you when. Unfortunately, there’s nothing for me to cook.

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