I started cooking around four years ago, just shortly before I launched this blog. When I first began exploring my way around the kitchen, cooking was this shiny new world whose every detail amazed me, dazzled me, and left me in awe. It felt amazing to be let into this brand new world, one that had previously eluded me and left me weak at my knees.
Cooking class was on every Thursday, 7pm sharp. Along with other students in the class, I’d sit in one of those hard plastic chairs in Pelusa Molina’s kitchen, notebook in hand, back upright, perched at the edge of my seat. My eyes would greedily take in everything there was to learn – how Pelusa rolled the dough she would later use for a quiche; how she chopped an onion with efficiency and ease; how she rubbed her hands with stainless steel to get rid of the pungent smell of fresh chopped garlic.
You could call this period getting to know cooking better. It felt like the initial stages of dating, where every moment was new and special and novel. I wanted to learn everything I could, and spent every moment at the bookstore along the cooking aisle, my nose buried in a cookbook I hadn’t seen before. I’d browse through blogs on the Internet for inspiration, flip through Pinterest, googling to read and learn from new recipes.
I was hooked. I’d fallen hard just like Alice in the rabbit hole, and without realizing it, I found myself smack in the middle of this strange and foreign gastronomical world called cooking. I’d wake up in the weekends burning to try a new recipe, and I’d go to sleep dreaming of a new dish I wanted to cook. When I wasn’t in the kitchen preparing the mise-en-place for a recipe, I’d be in the balcony, styling the food I’d just cooked and shooting endless photos of it. And then, when I was done with the photos, I’d come to this space and write about cooking, or something related to it.
Yet despite my heady passion for cooking and this newfound love of food blogging, I was extremely shy about telling other people about it. When friends joked about how I should start a restaurant or throw a dinner party, I’d shrink back in fear.
I was in love with cooking, but I just didn’t have the confidence in my own skills. I think it had more to do with my ego than a lack of self-confidence. I was constantly afraid that people would eventually try my food and realize that it didn’t taste as good as they looked in the photos. I was paralyzed with this fear of disappointing others, as I had been in so many other non food-related situations.
And so, over the past few years, I’d hide in the shadow of this fear, despite my growing passion for cooking. I just didn’t know how to overcome it.
Yet in the past half a year, I’ve learnt to let that fear go. Instead of clinging on to my ego and worrying that I’d be a disappointment, I’ve decided to release the need to meet people’s expectations of me. And surprisingly, this has taught me to enjoy cooking even more.
I’m now getting the hang of inviting people over and cooking them a meal, even if it’s a humble one without any complicated recipe. I no longer think too much about what they may think about my food or whether it is as good as it should be. I’ve started enjoying the process of sharing a table of home-cooked food with people I love, and that’s when the magic unfolds.
Food has always met a very primal need. And because of that, our relationship with food, and how we handle it, plays a big deal in our lives. I feel extremely blessed to be able to cook a decent meal, and to be able to share that with friends and family is a beautiful thing.
Be it a steaming hot bowl of beef ragu with creamy polenta, or just rosemary chicken with baked potatoes, or a freshly-baked loaf of banana walnut bread – the pleasure is still the same. It’s this act of love – manifested through the sharing of food – that brings an incredible joy.
Here’s the recipe for gluten-free banana walnut bread – a very simple and foolproof one that anyone (and I seriously mean anyone) can make.
You begin by beating milk cream and sugar until it’s frothy. And then add in mashed bananas and eggs and mix well until combined. Next, sift in baking powder and gluten-free flour one cup at a time until you get a homogeneous batter. Lastly, fold in chopped walnuts and evenly distribute them before pouring the batter into a loaf pan and baking until done.
Sounds easy right? Now you can make it yourself and share it with your loved ones too!