Monday, May 4, 2009

Post-Mortem Lesson 2: Cooking To Save My Life

I love food, but I don't cook. I heartily disagree with the pervading idea that a person does not know what good food is if he cannot cook. It is almost like saying, one is not equipped to love flowers just because he cannot grow a rose or a gardenia on a pot.

This does not mean that I have zero knowledge in food preparation. I can cook rice, noodles (I'm not talking about ready-to-eat-just-add-hot-water varieties here), omelette, and simple sauteed and fried dishes. It's just that I simply do not have the patience to stand in front of the stove nor the skill to balance flavours just by eyeballing, like how I see those marvelous chefs do it.

Je did all the cooking throughout the past six years that we were together. Every dish he did, in spite of the hits and misses, was done with care and passion, much like the way he put some choice songs together into a seamless mix (he did all my playlists at Trash Radio Manila). And so when he died, I felt, apart from from the barrage of emotions I had and still continue to experience, an indescribable craving for flavours that I associate with pleasant memories. Which is the reason why, one day, I found myself pondering in front of my electric stove.

[In my mind at that moment, I ran a list of dishes that Je used to prepare...I miss his curry, the first dish that he ever served me. I miss his soy chicken, which he packed for me to bring to the hospital during duty days. I miss his moussaka, the recipe for which he inherited from his mother. I miss his caldereta, kare-kare, lasagna...heck, I even miss his corned beef....]

I was staring long and hard at the stove, the pans, ladles...and decided on what to whip up the following day.

And so it went that the first dish that I did after a long while was one that I had never ever done before: FRENCH ONION SOUP.

[Oh God. I hope no Frenchman is reading this post right now *blush*]

The outcome? It was disappointing. I did not get the flavour that I want. Besides, I missed an important ingredient: French Gruyere cheese. (Embarrassing Point 2: I used cottage cheese, the cheese I had in the fridge that time.) Then again, I too have my hits and misses (with the misses far outweighing the hits). Cooking is something that I am, well, learning to do, in my attempt to replicate good memories, and eventually make new ones.

And as far as my relationship with the stove is concerned, this is only the beginning.

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