a food odyssey…

Like anyone else, I go through peaks and troughs of confidence. I know I make good food. I know I know a lot about food. But I am constantly reminded how little I really know and how much there is left to learn. I’ve talked about the meaning of life before, why are we here, what is our purpose, but if life is a journey, and if life is about what you learn during the journey, could my life be about learning about food? Could that be my purpose?

I think people will always regret that one career they didn’t pursue from childhood. For me, there are two. The first one, that we shall quickly pass over is law. I wish someone had told me earlier that my quick and argumentative mind would have been good in the field of law. I could have pursued it earlier, because despite my Masters Degree in Construction Law now, if I had had the chance earlier, I might have wanted to go through the hell of being a junior in a law firm and I think that would have been a great and fulfilling career for me. It’s too late now though and I work in Construction Law, which is the next best thing for now.

The second missed opportunity is obviously food related. If I had known in my teens that I would love food so much in my twenties and thirties, would I have pursued it as a career? Would my parents have let me? They were very much in the aspirational classes and they fought very hard to ensure that I positioned myself for a long and lucrative career. Unfortunately, I refused to fit into their mould and I didn’t settle on my current career until my late twenties. If I had been this obsessed with food then, would they have let me go to culinary school? I would like to hope so, and it’s a funny feeling to imagine what could have happened if I had pursued cooking from then. Would I have my own restaurant? Would I work in a top restaurant, or a local pub? Would I have combined my love of writing with food and be writing this blog anyway? Or would I be a top food journalist?

It’s fun to dream what might have been, but ultimately useless. I am where I am. I be what I be. I live what I live. This is my life. These are the choices I have made. Every moment and decision in my life led me to this moment, to this blog, to these words. But imagine how much I would know about food if I have taken the other path?

I wouldn’t be starting my food odyssey at 36 years old. I would be 15 years into it at least. I have so much I want to try, learn, experience. I have travelled extensively. I have tried many cuisines from many nationalities, continents, cultures. But what of all the ones I haven’t tried? I dream of eating South Indian food in India. I have never been to any of those countries whose food I am most averse to… Japan, China, Thailand. I have been to Indonesia, I had an amazing trip to Bali once and I don’t think I tried any local food at all (don’t ask, it was a strange trip where my entire time was spent writing University assignments or suffering ear infection pain…). I do feel that if I was living in that region, eating the street food, smelling the smells and sampling based on what my nose took me too, my feeling for that food would be different. I would learn the food the proper way, instead of selecting numbers from a sticky takeout menu.

And then there’s my “allergies”. I’m a true believer that if you have a natural aversion to a food, it’s likely to be something your body does not want, or cannot tolerate. But I also believe in the rule that if you try something ten times, you can grow to like it. That worked for me with avocado and fresh basil. It has never worked for me with coffee, shellfish or peanut butter. So I say I’m allergic, but what I really mean is I don’t like it and I don’t want a fuss about that fact. And it’s easier to say something makes you allergic than that even thinking about it makes you a bit sick… I do have manners you know!

One of my biggest problems with myself (apart from the obvious) is that I think people who don’t like certain foods can never be great cooks. I don’t cook with shellfish because of my natural aversion to it, but does that mean I should never include shellfish in my repertoire? I am older, wiser, more adventurous. I want to be able to cook great prawns, I want to be able to make the mussels that Handsome likes so much, so in my food odyssey, I am trying those things. I made sweet chili BBQ King Prawns last summer at one of our barbecues, I made mussels in white wine and cream for Handsome one lazy weekend. I didn’t eat them, I didn’t try them, but I understand they were good. Tasting is important, but so are the other senses, and I can see when prawns are just cooked and I can feel when a mussels sauce is just right.

I am already trying so many new things in my foodie life, but there are so many more things that I want to try. My life will be short, even if I live to be one hundred, there will never be time to try all the things I want to try, or the money to visit all the countries I want to visit. So I will start a bucket list, that I will post on this very blog, and maybe, from time to time, I will get to cross something off the list to prove that my food odyssey is underway…

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