Daily Post #63-65: On Cooking

Living on my own forced me to learn how to cook. Before coming here in Australia, I do not know how to cook. I do not have any idea how to cook. Well, I can make rice, fry eggs and cook some instant noodles but the idea of coming up with a dish proved to be a daunting task for me then. My mom and my grandmother were the designated cooks in our household. Moms are naturals. I had a very easy life when I was still living at my parent’s house. Breakfast is already prepared in the table when I wake up. My lunch would already be neatly packed on the table and I just have to grab it before I go to work. After a tiring day from work, there would already be a lovely dish prepared for us when we come home. It was so easy since we are pardoned from cooking and we can just go about and do our thing.

That is why when I moved here in Australia, I did not know anything about cooking. It also hasn’t been an immediate thing for me to learn when I came here though since I was very lucky to had been able to stay with my relatives when I initially decided to stay in Sydney and try my luck there.

My relatives are such amazing cooks and it really fascinated me to see how effortless it seemed for them to conjure a dish or two, sometimes even more, every single meal. It was evident that they loved to cook and you can taste the love that they poured in into every dish that they make. I think I gained a couple of pounds each week that I’ve stayed with them. ♥

Because of this fascination, I became interested even more to learn. My appetite to learn how to cook had been satisfied by one of my uncles in Sydney. He made cooking for dinner a Cooking 101 class for both me and his daughter which he tried to conduct every night. During those nights, he would direct us on what we should do and we just had to follow suit. Easy peasy, right? But for me who does not know how to cook, it was different. I remembered being so self-conscious and awkward in the kitchen. I did not even know how to hold a knife that my uncle would just stay by my side and oversee what I was doing, making sure that I haven’t cut my fingers or anything. He was so patient and I was so thankful because he gave me an opportunity to learn some basic stuffs and it did help me in building my confidence in the kitchen.

I stayed in Sydney for about two months before I decided to move in Melbourne. In Melbourne, I stayed in a friend’s house for about two months. My friend and her husband treated me as a guest in their house. Aside from the free accommodation, they also included me in their everyday budget which had been a very great help since I was still looking for a job then.

While I was staying with them, I discovered how great a cook my friend is. After work, she would whip up something for dinner and after dinner she would still have the energy to cook up another dish which we will eat for next day’s lunch. It was amazing. There I was, just having sat in their house the whole day, already tired after job-searching in front of my laptop and sending out resumes to companies practically the whole day while she still had the energy to cook two dishes after working the whole day in the office. What a superwoman. In short, I wasn’t able to continue on with my cooking saga. ♥

After less than a month of staying with them, I was able to get a job. When I already felt that I can already stand on my feet, I moved out and found a place of my own. That was my first taste of independence. Such a bittersweet taste for me. It was lonely at first but since I had to do everything for and by myself, I eventually did not notice the loneliness anymore.

This time around, I was left with no choice but to continue to learn how to cook for myself. My experimental journey in the kitchen had been both awkward and amazing. I commited a lot of mistakes. I burnt a lot of fried foods. I overcooked eggs. I almost triggered the smoke alarm. I made too salty, too sour and too sweet dishes. My bloopers were endless the first few weeks. Nonetheless, it was still amazing in the sense that I was able to commit those mistakes without any fear or worry that someone would laugh at me, get mad at me or think that I am some kind of a joke. It was pure, unadulterated, unfiltered learning. With these essential mistakes, I became better.

After a day’s work, I would find myself looking forward to having to cook my dinner. I now understand how my relatives and my friend who were already tired from work still had the energy to cook after coming home. Cooking is therapeutic. There’s just something in being able to create something that makes me feel empowered. Having cooked a dish feels like I have achieved something and this feeling builds me up and carries me on for me next cooking engagement. It felt wonderful.

I am still learning. I still had a long way to go when it comes to cooking but the journey’s what makes this so beautiful. I do not think I would ever stop learning. When I think of cooking something, I just do it. If it turned out to be good, I improve on it. If it’s not what I expect it to be, I make a mental note of it, tweak the process the next time until I get it right. It is a never-ending process and I am so excited to see how my cooking style would evolve over time.