“Do you cook?” I ask a friend one day.
He looks like he significantly gains some weight over these two and a half years. With super long hair that’s not yet cut as the barber cost ten times more than back home, he looks even bigger.
“Sometimes…” he says, releasing a silent laugh. He must have caught me staring at his morphed body. I ask again, “What kind of food do you usually cook?”
I could have guessed the answer.
Instant noodles, spam, fried eggs, spam, Korean instant noodles, and fried eggs.
THE emergency food. Our holy grail.
Not that I am a good cook. I want to, but in two weeks the menu would go back to: stir-fried veggies with fish sauce, spam and egg omelet, stir-fried beef and mushroom with steak sauce, stir-fried chicken and carrot with lots of oyster sauce, two instant noodles with two eggs (one serving portion), and stir-fried pork and broccoli with heaps of oyster sauce, again.
In sum, my cooking (and my sister’s) revolves around stir-fries, and thank God for whoever invented fish sauce and oyster sauce. We dump lots of veggies into our cooking, because, well, we love being efficient.
Our version of fried rice is the one with broccoli, carrot, tomatoes, eggs, and prawns. You won’t find that in any recipe book.
Well, who’s got the time (and will power) to cook veggies and meat separately and then wash all those dishes? I prefer to watch Masterchef. Or The Voice. Or The 6PM Project.
Don’t worry, we are not out of recipes. There are at least three handsome-looking cooking books just sitting there on my bookshelf. We even open them regularly. Put some book marks. Highlight some recipes. But after flipping and flipping through the pages we decide to put the book right where it belongs – there are too many ingredients, too many techniques. I’ll just depend to my own unable-to-taste tongue and cook that edible food.
And spam. We always have at least two cans of them for stocking – you know, just in case. We love eating eggs – usually we bought the Woolies’ extra extra large cage eggs (which contains 18 eggs) each week.
We have heaps of untouched seasonings – from nutmeg, lemon pepper, mixed herbs, rice wine, Chinese 5 spices, Worcestershire sauce, and a whole cupboard full of bottles of different sizes, colours, and brands, which half has gone past their due dates unnoticed and written either in Chinese or Indonesian language that I couldn’t even translate to English.
My sister and I are never a fan of pasta, so those easy pasta cooking may only happen once a year.
When we feel like it, we will upgrade our cooking into tofu with minced pork and prawn – the classic Chinese dish, yet all we do is dumping as much fish sauce and pepper as we like. Twice a year, I will cook noodles with chicken, minced pork, and mushroom. Just to satisfy the craving.
I cooked porterhouse steak with mushroom sauce and mashed potatoes once. Once. Back when I was in first year.
The other very fancy cooking I’ve done is garlic prawn. Once. Fish pie? Once.
Even with my better-than-average intake of veggies and fruits and decent cooking, I feel defeated. Deflated. Gone are those ambitions to become a better cook as I become independent. Now I’m slightly worried of the well-being of my future husband. I really hope he can cook.
So back with my friend. “I think you really need to start cooking,” I say. He shrugs.
“When you live with those take-aways, do you consume veggies at all? Fruits? Boost juice?” I ask, suddenly wearing the hat of a health fanatic.
He laughs. “Sometimes,” he says. He looks away.
“Well, you really need to take care of yourself, don’t you?” I say, not looking into his eyes.
“I know. I’m just too lazy to do it.” And with that he releases a long sigh.
At least, now, we are all one step closer to being healthy.