In the states I felt pretty good about my foodie abilities. I strutted my stuff with homemade bagels and hand folded raviolis. I confidently managed a glass of wine and a good conversation while sautéing. And I made probably the meanest mac and cheese around.
Here, I suck.
I make a lot of mistakes. I scrape too hard when I descale. I forget to sharpen my machete between chickens. And I don’t rotate my coals soon enough, turning my roasted eggplant to ash.
I have to unlearn everything I’ve known about cooking before. Lids are never to be used. MSG is best for flavoring. Iceberg lettuce goes in soup. And absolutely nothing is wasted. Fish fins and lime rinds? Throw ‘em in the pot.
And shoes should never be worn. Rubber flip-flips only.
(When you’re squatting on the pavement scrubbing veggies with water from a hose, and your friend is shredding raw fish with a butcher knife, sending bits of flesh flying, the last thing you want are shoes you can’t rinse.)
Yesterday I made a traditional meal, laap, with Noy and Kaman. Laap is basically meat salad; the meat (usually raw) is finely ground and mashed with toasted rice, mint, cilantro and pepper. A paste like substance, you eat it with balls of sticky rice and your hands.
Despite a major pepper-washing-eye-touching mistake during yesterday’s preparations, lunch turned out pretty damn good, thanks mostly to Noy and Kaman.
I’ve got a long ways to go before I take on a meal alone. And I think its safe to say I can forget about that glass of wine.
So, for today’s lunch?
Cornflakes, milk, sugar.