Why I Love Food and Cooking

Random Observation/Comment #356: “I don’t mind cooking, it’s just the cleaning afterwards.” ~Everyone who’s too lazy to cook. A clean kitchen is a productive one and every chef must at some point first be a cleaner.

see lemons cook breakfast

It must have started at an early age, my love of food. How else could one explain my chubster qualities up until my high school growth spurt?  It wasn’t that I ate junk food and didn’t exercise; It was because my Mom is the most amazing cook and I ate a bit more of everyone else’s share (plus, I didn’t like to exercise).

I was raised as a good Chinese boy: One who finished everything on his plate and asked for seconds.  It kept my mouth shut to not say anything disrespectful, and it kept my smiles wide as my aunts and uncles all praised me for being so good eating all their meals.  This was probably some of the highlights of my childhood – my little legs dangled off the chair while my face licked the gravy off the third plate of mashed potatoes.

And what has this childhood created?

Surprisingly, it wasn’t obesity or diabetes. My metabolism has been very kind to me and the regular exercise routine (from table tennis at Spin mainly) probably helps a little bit.  I’ve come to appreciate food in many ways. I review restaurants, take part in foodtography, study food as a hobby, and love to cook.  I admire chefs who are able to transform cuisines into an art, dishes into a work of art, and the meal into a journey.

When one has a master cook like my mother, it would be silly for me not to appreciate such an art. At first, I think my mother kept my brother and I away from the kitchen so her job couldn’t be replaced (or we wouldn’t try to be professional chefs). As years passed, however, I think she realized that the American modern stance for male cooks is that their value as a husband increases by multiples (seriously, knowing how to cook is a leg up in the dating game). From that realization forward, my relationship with my mother and family has been emphasized by food discussions and sharing recipes.  Similar to the reason behind my favorite beer, it’s really this relationship with my mother that has fortified my love for cooking.

I don’t think cooking is a personal achievement that should be compared in a competitive manner. Perhaps great chefs compete for such an honor, but the act of cooking is much simpler. I think cooking is about sharing the tastes and creations from the heart and soul. True cooking, I see now, formulates with family and love. The delicate meal prepared by my mother and aunts are done so because they know it will be the strong bond between all families. Cooking and eating becomes the ritual that stays sacredly tied to life and happiness. For me, it’s that reaction when someone tastes your meal and the smile of satisfaction when there are no leftovers (or people complain they’re too full to move).

I will never be a better cook than my mother, but I know she appreciates it when I try. I know she sees I’m cooking for the same reason she has every night all these years – it is a gift of sustenance to the ones you love. Whether someone else seems grateful or not, Mom, know that I will always love your gift.

~See Lemons Love Cooking