I have a weird relationship with food. Throughout childhood and college, I looked at food merely as a means of nutrition, nothing more. I had a handful of favourites that my mother used to cook very well, but by and large, I used to have a ‘meh’ kind of attitude to food, especially to ghar-ka-khana (homemade food).
My journey as a foodie began only when I met my husband, who’s the true foodie among the two of us. I still remember how the poor thing tried to impress me by taking me to a Greek restaurant for a date, and I ended up eating nothing but boiled rice and stir-fried veges because I hated the food there! He still bears a grudge about it. But, he and my Mother-in-Law are the reason why I learnt how to appreciate good food over just food and cultivated the love for cooking in me.
I don’t consider myself a foodie even now because I have very simple requirements in food and I don’t like to dine out much, but there are times when I have a hankering for certain foods and I’ll go to any lengths to hoard the ingredients required to make that particular dish. For example, I’ve been craving Miso ramen for some time now but I cannot find Miso paste (obviously a very important part of the dish) in any food store in my vicinity. And you can’t make it at home (yes, I’ve googled up ‘DIY miso paste’ too). So I’ve had to place an order online for it, and now I wait for it to arrive. That’s the kind of foodie I am. Oddly enough, as someone who hated ghar-ka-khana, I’ve turned out exactly like my mother. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree after all!
Yes, I’m the ‘DIY’ type of foodie who would much rather cook/bake by hand rather than sample food at a restaurant or a food fest. For me cooking my favorite meals is like celebrating an event. First, there’s the preparation – going to the grocery store to gather the ingredients or hunting for them at speciality stores.
Then there’s the cleaning and cooking – washing, chopping, slicing, watching them all come together in a sweet melody in my mixing bowl or kadhai.
And then there is the celebration itself – serving it to your family and having the satisfaction of knowing that they enjoy it.
Don’t even get me started on the aroma that fills the house when the food is cooking/baking. I love it when these aromas hang around the house for hours even after the food has been sitting nicely in my tummy! I’m by no means a fabulous cook, but I do love cooking my favorites.
Some of my friends joke that I should have been born in China or Japan or Thailand because I love anything brothy, soupy with a tonne of ginger and chicken floating in it, and – noodles! In short, I love foods that go ‘sluuuuurp’! Naturally, all noodle based foods are my absolute favourites – Miso ramen, Phad Thai, Yakisoba, Spaghetti with meatballs, simple Chicken Noodle Soup, Indo-Chinese Chow mein, or even Maggi! But the top of the list makes a relatively lesser known congee I first had courtesy of the chef on board my husband’s merchant ship – Arroz Caldo.
It’s a Filipino congee (rice porridge), roughly equivalent to chicken soup and is consumed as breakfast or when you’re feeling unwell. Its relatively simple to make IF you have chicken/vegetable stock at hand, or even stock cubes, and if you’re crazy about soups like me, you will ALWAYS keep chicken stock in your freezer to pop into any soup. Arroz Caldo consists of rice cooked in chicken/vegetable stock along with stir-fried chicken (or you could use pork, fish or shrimps), fried garlic, ginger, hard boiled eggs, topped with a garnish of spring onion, a dash of calamnsi/lemon and fish sauce. For the recipe, please head to Pilipinas Recipe. This recipe includes saffron, which in my opinion, is not necessary. I think it’s only included for the yellow color. Also, I like to make my soups healthy by adding stir-fried vegetables like carrot, mushrooms and bok choy. But you can leave them out if you like. Mind you, this congee is NOT for weight watchers.
This is the ultimate comfort food for me. This is what I crave when I’m unwell, or when I’ve had a bad day, or even when I just need to cook something good. This, along with the veges I throw in, is like a complete meal in a bowl and I can eat this for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In fact, I HAVE done that on some days aboard that merchant ship, when what the Filipino cook dished out was not to my liking (read squid). Gave me the creeps just thinking about it!
So, now you know what kind of foodie I am! I’m the kind of foodie who loves the process of cooking as much the eating part of it. I’m the kind of foodie who will serve you everything right from bread, cookies, pasta and dessert all made by hand, in my very own kitchen. I’m the kind of foodie who’s idea of shopping is grocery shopping, and the kind of foodie who loves stuffing her refrigerator with things that she would like to cook.
So who’s coming over for dinner tonight? 😉
Featured Image: HomeMaker at Pixabay