Cooking for Survival

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Watching Masterchef Junior last week brought me to realise something – I pretty much ate whatever that was shoved in my face during my childhood. I sat there in front of my computer screen drooling over the dishes these kids aged eight to eleven years old created. From showing off their knife skills in the kitchen to executing their refined taste palette, I question my existence as an adult.

Living in a country where cheap hawker food is abundant has somehow made us reliant on buying cooked food outside. While Singapore does not face the problem of overconsumption of fast food (think McDonald’s and KFC), Singapore is still at risk of raising a sickly and unhealthy population thanks to the over-dependence on cheap street fare.

I must admit, I am not a natural cook. Cooking does not come intuitively for me. I started experimenting in the kitchen at thirteen, when I came home from school hungry and realised instant noodles tasted a lot better if I added a bit of chopped onions and chilli. Using whatever skills I learnt from being my sisters’ sous chef when I was much younger, I started to cook full meals from scratch.

My mother says that if I were to be thrown into a jungle, I would more than just survive (Kalau aku campak kau kat hutan pun kau hide – sounds funnier in malay). But that’s exactly my point – everyone should learn how to cook to survive. What you feed your body feeds your soul. Singaporeans complain when their $2.50 chicken rice is now priced at $3.50, but what they do not understand is that other countries are paying close to $15 for the same plate of chicken rice you eat everyday.

I’ve been asked what motivates me to cook, and I give them different answers all the time because really, I have so many reasons for spending my time in the kitchen. Above all, I cook because I want to know what goes inside my body. Like what Jamie Oliver says, if you want to eat a lot, you better not be eating crap. Nourish your body with good food and fuel your mind with fresh food.

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