I love food; mouth-watering, sensationally delectable meals that feed our eyes before they nourish our bodies. The type of meals that seduce not one, but all of your senses. You see it; simmering, glistening in its culinary glory, you smell it; a delightful conundrum born of a perfect blend of spices, you feel it; perhaps not on you, but in you as it evokes all sorts of emotions, you even hear it calling out to your taste buds just before you taste it and savour it for all that it’s worth, devouring it all in a fraction of the time it took to put it all together.
I won’t lie though; I am not your ideal definition of a connoisseur when it comes to matters of the pallet. To be honest actually, it is rare that I will find fault with a meal, and if I do, then possibly so will a dog. My woes can be attributed to the 6 years of my life spent in a school on a hill far far away. You see, when you are accustomed to eating half cooked, weevil infested food, it is never really that hard to be impressed. And don’t get me wrong, those 6 years were probably some of the best years of my life; the food was in equal measure probably the worst of my life (touches wood in the hope that my future wife does not disprove this statement)
So a combination of this said love for food, the state of the economy (yes, a live chicken costs considerably less than a plate of lemon herb chicken from Café Javas) and my constant search for self-improvement has led me to learn how to cook. Like many decisions in my life, I asked myself the same question I have asked innumerable times; “If he/she can do it, why can’t i?” And just like that, I turned on my cooker that had been literally laying in state in my kitchen for 3 months and made a move. I would soon discover that this task was not for the faint at heart and that many of my favourite meals were quickly becoming my most abhorred simply because of the painstaking process it took me to get them ready.
I have nevertheless stuck to my resolve, but it hasn’t been void of drama, lessons and a few regrets. I have forged a relationship with Maria who runs a vegetable stall just down the road to my house, to make sure I always have the freshest produce at the best price (I made the mistake of sharing my contact with her. She now chooses to abuse this courtesy. I am constantly receiving a barrage of memes that have nothing to do with vegetables; HITS THE BLOCK BUTTON). I have had to learn that tomatoes can be used for a lot more than sandwiches and that onions were not exclusively made for omelettes. I have always wanted to get a tattoo and now because of the burns on my arm, it is starting to look like I won’t need one. I have burnt more meals than I care to count. I have over salted and under spiced what would have otherwise been great roasts. But at the end of the day, I have started on this my journey. I’m no Gordon Ramsay, but I’m getting there; I’m no longer prisoner to canned foods and our beloved “National Food” the rolex. I am liberated!
Through it all, I have gained a great respect for the people that get food onto the table. The ones that struggle behind the scenes, getting the right mix of an assortment of ingredients and condiments to make the perfect meal. The people who sometimes don’t even have it figured out, but work with whatever is available in the fridge or kitchen to whip up a magical dish. For a very long time I have been on the receiving end of the process, either as spectator from afar or even as one actively involved in the mastication that ensues. In each case I was quick to judge and slower to acknowledge the mastery behind it all. The time it took not only to prepare the meal, but to gain the skill that was employed to deliver that one moment of artistry.
It’s a lot like life come to think of it. We see the finished product and want it for what it is at that moment. We have very little regard for what went into it; the mistakes, the burns, the botched attempts. We want to conveniently skip the obstacle course and end up at the finish line. We want to stay out of the kitchen.
So the next time you feel the urge to play judge and jury over someone else’s struggles or their success, roll up your sleeves and step into their kitchen. You may learn a thing or two.
And for this very reason, I am making a commitment to drive a Vitz this week. I hope to gain a greater appreciation of the struggles faced by those who own/drive these cars and perhaps judge them a little less when I find them opting for a bicycle lock instead of an alarm system in a bid to keep the car safe.