Survival 101: Making Things Edible (aka Cooking)

It remains one of the darkest clouds in my sky after my sister left for the UK: bridging the deep chasm of expectations she left behind. (I really, really enjoy metaphors.)

Despite being just a year older, my sister Alia is more grown-up than me in every way there is. She:

  • not only knows how to cook, but is one of the best cooks I know;
  • not only knows how to drive, but remembers directions everywhere we go;
  • is the patient peacekeeper in our family, whereas I am the Iran of sibling relations;
  • tidies up her room everyday, whereas I let things pile up. Isn’t that what tables are for, though?
  • accompanies our Mama everywhere her heart desires.

Anyway, as soon as Alia unpacked all of her things in Canterbury, all the heads turned to me. Oh, this is bad, I thought, because I generally dislike heads turning towards me, especially in the manner that these particular heads did. They collectively bore the look that said, ‘Now you must prove yourself.’ I knew that from then onwards, I would have to:

  • not only know how to cook, but be one of the best cooks I know;
  • not only know how to drive, but remember directions everywhere I go;
  • be the patient peacekeeper, the Ban Ki-Moon of sibling relations;
  • tidy up my room everyday, and be the one-woman Anti-Pileup Squad of my personal abode;
  • accompany my Mama everywhere her heart desires.

I told myself that by the end of my gap year, I will have ticked every single one of these very achievable goals – and then some. So I started on the first on the list: a basic living skill called COOKING.

I know. The word stumped me too, at first. So I looked it up.

The dictionary definition of cooking

D: *

So, you can see why it took me some time.

My first attempts were mediocre at best: entire omelettes stuck to the pan, overcooked rice, blackened grilled cheese sandwiches and other culinary horrors. But over the past five months results have improved in quality. I’m hardly Master Chef material, but it is heartening to be learning new recipes and realizing them without having to ask my sister to do it for me. It adds just that little more to the sense of independence that comes with a gap year. Why, back in college, the most I ever did in a kitchen was pour hot water onto ramen and stir. And sometimes I’d get fancy and throw in an egg, then microwave the whole thing. Mamma mia.

Now, I find comfort in the fact …

1) that my scrambled eggs look ‘scrambled’ in the delicious sense, and not ‘scrambled’ in the muddled and confused, running for their lives in all directions, sense,


2) that my Singaporean fried noodles taste less like air dashed with soy sauce and more like ribbons of irresistible yumminess,

3) that despite having focused on actual cooking with a stove for the past five months, I am still Sandwich Master of the house.

Okay, obviously I need to fancify this post with a lot more pictures than one measly snapshot of a plate of breakfast. But the truth is, unlike many of my Instagram-addicted friends, I simply forget to take pictures of my food before I shovel them into my mouth. I mean … to hell with savoring the dish. The longer you take dawdling over an untouched plate of divine thingies-made-edible, the more pointless the bloody slaughter of those innocent baby carrots, am I right? If you respect carrots, you would eat up your vegetable soup instead of inexplicably try to make it look like it’s from the 1960’s on your cell phone.

Regards, fellow küks.

Disclaimer: no actual human children and/or baby carrots were harmed in the making of this blog post.

*Yes, I know how to actually pronounce the ü sound.

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