SLAVING OVER A HOT STOVE

I don’t like eating schedules. I hate meal planning. And I loathe routine. I’m a ‘let’s open the fridge and see what’s for dinner’ type person. I thrive on the challenge of opening the fridge, seeing a handful of ingredients, and having a limited amount of time to dish up a meal. It’s my version of MasterChef’s Mystery Box.

My style of exploratory cooking is definitely not for everyone. In fact, people would probably say I’m making life harder for myself. While meal planning has some benefits of reducing stress and costs, and allows you the ability to plan for healthier and diverse meals, there is just something so uninspiring about knowing ahead of time what you will be eating on any given day. And let’s not even start on the topic of meal prepping in bulk and eating it for several days straight (*shudder).

I like the spontaneity of creating something on a whim. I like discovering new foods. If I have the time, I like to search for interesting recipes and have a crack. For me, cooking and baking food is not only to feed the family but a form of self-expression and art. It feeds my innovative and creative spirit. I love placing a dish in front of someone, seeing their face light up with amazement upon the first bite and demolish my food with gusto. Best feeling ever!

It is very unfortunate that my children and husband are fussy eaters. There is a massive ‘DO NOT EAT’ food list; eggs, seafood, lemongrass, tomatoes to name a few. It really cramps my style.

A few nights ago, I made chicken butter masala from scratch. I’m talking ‘marination with yoghurt and grinding cashew nuts’ scratch. It was a masterpiece. The aroma coming from my kitchen would have made an Indian mother proud. It was THAT authentic. I was pretty chuffed with my efforts.

So when I put the Ah-Maz-Ing curry in front of my family, I was expecting to be lavished with praise. Instead, I got…

“Mummy, how many bites?”

“I don’t want to eat this! It’s not very nice.”

“I just want to eat the rice.”

“I’m full!”

“Can I have ice cream if I eat this?”

I could only stare dumbfounded at these little people. Were they eating the same thing? What was wrong with their palates? Surely, being children, they simply couldn’t appreciate good food. I looked to my husband for confirmation, only to find him quiet and nibbling at the rice. He doesn’t even like eating rice.

“Well?” I asked, giving him a hard stare.

“It’s very nice. Kids, you should eat Mummy’s curry. She spent a long time making us dinner,” he replied.

I felt mollified until he pushed his half-eaten bowl aside and said, “I had a huge lunch.”

You can imagine my annoyance at slaving over this magnificent curry that wasn’t being appreciated or eaten. I gave up trying to force the kids to eat and went to have a restorative bath. As I came out, I heard a kerfuffle and a familiar smell wafting in the air.

“Stop hoarding the chips!”

“That’s mine!”

“Kids, there’s plenty to share!”

“Daddy, you know what the best part of dinner was? These chips!”

Giggles.

Everyone froze mid chips to mouth when I walked in and found them eating KFC.

“Um…this isn’t what it looks like. It’s dessert,” said my husband, looking sheepish.

I felt annoyed at seeing everyone chowing down on chips like seagulls at the beach. Was my curry that bad?

“Mummy, you want a chip?” asked my toddler, offering to share his stash.

Looking at his outstretched hand, holding a hot chip that made my mouth water on sight, I debated what message I would be sending by taking the delicious golden fry. It was short-lived. I let out a sigh of acceptance, pulled up a chair and joined the family. I had no doubt in my mind that there would be many successful meals to come. Just not this one.

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