at work. in the kitchen

this is my favorite part of the house. the one domain where i reign as queen supreme.. where i can order Mr Pan to do my bidding, where i conjure up crazy magic and end up with food. yum!

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ever since i was little, i’d spend much of my days in the kitchen. i was a fattie (no, really) — i was constantly hungry, so i was constantly foraging for food. my cooking endeavors started from boiling chicken sausages in water to making simple pasta from jarred sauces at the tender age of 6, but things really took off only after i moved to michigan for college. living with three other boys spurred me on to take a more domestic role, especially since boys cook.. like boys. i started contributing to the kitchen occasionally, and that turned into me contributing a dish every day, then at every meal, and soon, i was cooking almost all the dishes we ate. I miss the boys and all the crazy things we used to do, such as buying a live fish to steam, eating insane things like fried minced pork atop fried toufu on a bed of fried egg omelet, and working together to get a whole japanese meal out– mountains of sashimi, baskets of tempura, rolls so fat and numerous they were falling off our plates, and literally, a stock-pot full of udon. oh, i miss them so much!

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as for myself, i guess what really helped me become the cook i am today is my mother. she’s an insanely good cook, and she cooked EVERY DAY, without fail, pushing out 3 or more asian-style dishes for both lunch and dinner for the whole family. when the kids were still in school, it was mandatory for all of us to be back for meals; no such thing as hanging out with our friends after school and all. my dad would also come back for lunch, and occasionally, his co-workers too, so it was always a big crowd at the dinner table.

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my mom and i would play this game where, whenever we went out to eat, we’d taste the food and deduce how it was cooked, and what was put into it. we went in depth, trying to figure out how to reproduce the dish at home by stripping each dish down to its elements. we shared our opinions and thoughts, and i loved how my views were respected and appreciated. then, if we like the dish enough, we’d go home and try to recreate them, together.

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I still do this today.. and often i’m very good at identifying the components and cooking style. i often ask the waiter to verify, and sometimes my companions think i’m a food snob, showing off my knowledge, but really, i’m not. these enjoyable dissecting exercises just help me become a better home cook, that’s all, plus they remind me of time spent with my mother. and it brings me a lot of joy when i’m able to recreate dishes that the Pan man enjoyed, so that we can enjoy them together in the comforts of our home.

 

 

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