There used to be a time in my early and mid twenties where the idea of trying out a new restaurant or the latest cafe reviewed by famous food bloggers would put me in a flurry of excitement. To be the first few amongst my friend to have tried a coveted drink or a signature dish would create this elusive sense of pride.
I had a moment of retrospection today when I was waiting for a friend to arrive. We had agree to meet at one of the newer establishment in Damansara and as I sat scanning the menu, I noticed the inevitable absence of excitement. None of the fancy sounding dishes and its delectable description seems to make my mouth water. What has changed?
Eating out whether it is a simple lunch or fine dining has become a rarity these days as I begin to discover the joy of cooking using fresh ingredients. To have the ultimate control of what exactly goes into my meal and to know exclusively how each of those ingredient would benefit my health and my body is perhaps the kind of pride I hold for myself now.
I thought back on the amount of money I used to spend without batting an eyelid years ago. 40 ringgit for a burger? Sure. Or 25 ringgit for a bottle of water? Childs play. I realised when you are on a payroll, there is a false sense of security that your bank account will be replenished back to that original amount at the start of each month. Now that I am running my own show, the value of each dollar seems to have grown and amplify. Perhaps it is that. Perhaps it is also my tastebuds that went through a “re-education” of sorts when good home cooked whole food were introduced back into my diet using fresh and simple ingredients.
I think cooking makes up half the fun of eating. The starting point often varies. Sometimes it’s opening my fridge and rummaging through the chiller to see what I have in there. Sometimes it’s a recipe online that caught my eye. Sometimes it’s one new ingredient I had read about and recently acquired. Cooking isn’t a task, but more like a fun experimentation. Like a child that goes into a sandbox and starts building things in there, I go into my kitchen and start making things. It is never a chore. Now washing up and cleaning the dishes however … That is an entirely different thing. And when things go wrong? Either find ways to tweak it and still have it come out tasting decent or trash it. Sometimes it isn’t just worth saving. And that is ok. You learn what works and what doesn’t. But more importantly, your relationship with food changes too.
You begin to respect the source it comes from. The energy and labour of love that each farmer pours into it. And your taste senses began to form new neural pathways in your brain as memory. The taste of each individual ingredient becomes ingrained and you can recall it as easy as you could the memory of you eating your grandmother’s chicken soup. That is the power of reconnecting with your food and building a life long intimate relationship with it.