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Friday, March 5, 2010

How did I learn to cook?

        So how have I come to produce such drool worthy creations? I'm not sure actually. I am seriously convinced that it is genetic for me. Mum is an awesome cook. She's able to please 99% of the people who eat her food, then there's the silly 1% of people who are just a... P.I.T.A (Pain In The Ass) to please. I've discovered that I am becoming much like her it's scary! Mum's cooking history started as a young girl back in Vietnam, though alot of what she did was survival, I guess that's where we are different. I do it 100% out of leisure. She does it because she has a family to feed, but we are a household of picky eaters! (Apart from me because I will eat almost anything). I do know she has a passion for food, she probably aches to cook amazing dishes at home, but because of the picky eaters alot of the time she is limited by dishes that she knows everyone will eat, or she'll end up cooking 2-3 different meals (yes meals not individual dishes) to try and satisfy all palates. Growing up I have been exposed to so many Vietnamese dishes that she's cooked, some created by just emulating flavours and textures which she has seen/tasted. She does pretty well copying methods and techniques. I think I've picked up on this.

        Mum is a self taught home cook, and I am the same. She will study recipes and take in the ingredients and methods to heart and memory and will execute the dish in the way she thinks it should work. Sometimes doing it this way doesn't quite work out but most of the time she seems to hit the nail on the head. I on the other hand read and follow recipes - but always adding my own touch to it. I have tried to ask her for "recipes" but she really can't even give me an exact answer as to how much salt she put in. I've watched mum cook and she'll just grab a bucket of salt or sugar, grab a few pinches and throws it in, tastes and then add more if needed. It's rubbing off on me.

        The one thing that makes me different to Mum is she only cooks Vietnamese dishes, and I tend to cook western/other eastern/asian dishes. It probably is a result of dating a non Vietnamese boy and growing up in such a multi-cultural society and being exposed to all different foods when growing up. I remember in primary school we were taught to cook. Imagine this - fresh hot damper straight out of the oven with soft melted butter and drizzled with golden syrup - oh bliss! I also remember baking cookies at school and coming home telling Dad I wanted to bake. I found a recipe and he helped me buy all the ingredients. What I didn't know at the time, and I think Dad wasn't paying attention either, is that we had bought SALTED butter, (generally I only use unsulted butter in my cooking). Anyway, with the salted butter and extra pinch of salt in the cookie dough we resulted in some very salty biscuits. I also remember making very flat, very chewie Anzac biscuits which was actually homework for class. I think the kids loved them none the less even though they were the ugliest weirdest looking Anzac biscuits of the class!

        The cooking went into high school too. I loved the Food Tech. class! Though many food disasters came out of them too. Undercooked chicken wings, grating my knuckles while trying to grate a carrot, bland sludgy lasagne, tough and rubbery microwaved chocolate cake. It wasn't all rainbows and lollipops when I started learning to cook! I've just had alot of experiences since then but I still have my failures every now and again. So to sum it up, I learnt to cook from school, through my mum, and through self learning starting from basic recipes like choc chip cookies, packet cake mixes, fried eggs and then just building up from there as I learn more and grow in my journey of all things culinary.

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