I happen to have a close relative who proudly declared that cooking is a waste of time and money, dirty and something people who have nothing better to do, do – pathetic! She would hang around the mini wet market in our housing estate, rambling this to all the ah-sohs doing their marketing. If my mother happened to bump into her dil (guess the relation to me?), she will fled quickly due to embarassement. But hey, close relative is from a rich family and can afford to brag. She managed to bring up a healthy, smart daugther just on processed infant food and proceeded to ‘ta pau’ (take-out) food.
So, for someone like me who had been cooking from as young as 10 years old, you can imagine how distateful I found people who fall into the same pangsa (category) as her. They don’t know what they are missing. In the good ole days, we don’t use gas because Esso hasn’t invented cooking gas. We use charcoal and firewoods stove. We have no Teflon non-stick pan. Only ironcast wok that weighs a ton and rusts all the time. But I can fry cucur kodok (banana mashed and mixed with flour and sugar) from the bananas I chopped down from the tree we planted. I can cook monitor lizard which I caught and skinned, seasoned with kunyit, salt and sugar. Yeah, biawak. It taste like chicken, only better. I cook frogs caught from the paddy field. Exotic!
I used to fry rice to ta-pau to school from as young as in primary school. Hey, now that I write about this, I think I am very ‘keng’ (fantastic), hor? I was born to cook. I can cook for the whole clan. Chinese New Year dishes are my specialities. My cooking skill is so great that any old ladies will love to make me their daugther-in-law. Probably when I broke off with one Canto guy, his mom must have missed me like hell. She must be more broken hearted than him. Now, I had totally forgotten the guy but what his mom taught me about cooking Cantonese dishes stayed with me. Tak rugi la like that. Too bad my mil never teach me any Hakka dishes ‘cos we never really bonded as mil and dil.
Though I have four batangs (sons), I am going to make sure that every one of them at least learn some basic cooking skills. There is something romantic about having your man in the kitchen, dishing up meals for a woman. So, I have been training my sons in the kitchen. They can fry an egg, make omellete, scrambled, half-boiled, hard boiled and in every style. Of course, the mandatory instant noodle also. This evil mother-in-law-to-be is going to screen her future daughter-in-laws ‘qualifications’. If any one of them has the same attitude towards cooking like the above-mentioned close relative, she can ‘puadah’ (get lost). No sons and future grandchildren of mine are going to eat take-out food as the staple meals. Only home-cooked meals for them.
A woman is a great mom if her son can cooks. Just like Peter Tan’s mom. He can cook, inspite of the fact that he is in a wheel-chair and his mom is no longer around.