Home-cooking is dying a slow death especially in big cities like Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Home-cooking is dying simply because we don't cook like our parents and their parents did. And here's a list of reasons why we don't cook, (based on what I observe around me) followed by some suggestions that could bring us back to cooking at home. I am unable to cover them all within a single posting but will continue with subsequent ones.
Negative first experiences
Some of us did try our hand at cooking. This is especially true when we left home for college, or when we started working and realized how our meagre paycheck couldn't afford our eating out every meal. So we started with instant noodles but grew tired of it. Then we thought, why not make our own steaks and mashed potatoes at home? But because nobody taught us and these we didn't learn from textbooks, we left the pan so smoking hot it triggered the smoke alarm. Or we blitzed the freshly boiled potatoes in the blender, never had we imagined the pressure within would be so great the cover gets blown off, and we spent the night wiping off random globs of spud in the kitchen. Never again.
Fire. It's all about the fire. That was my biggest hurdle after which my confidence started to grow. Learn the difference between boiling and simmering, searing and pan-frying. When you are able to control the fire on the stove, you're able to control almost everything else in the kitchen. The kitchen is pretty much like a woman. Tame her fire and you'll enjoy marvelous results.
A matter of self-worth
We all know of someone who has a home library of books by celebrity chefs, or worse, molecular gastronomy. Yes, it is all very intriguing but sometimes, too much of these can deflate one's own culinary esteem. And then we think we can't possibly be good enough to make a meal for the family, 'cause our food turn out looking like shite (most likely overcooked, by the way). We have to remember that the drool-worthy photos we see in nearly all cookbooks have been carefully arranged and styled, shot from multiple angles many times over before a "best shot" was chosen. It is possible for our home-cooked meals to look like those photos. It takes lots of practice. But you can do it nonetheless.
And then, on the opposite extreme of the self-worth spectrum: some of us think cooking is beneath us. Cooking is dirty. Cooking is for people who can't do anything else. Cooking is for those at the bottom of the food chain, namely the domestic helper. Now this is a big problem. Because cooking is an essential life skill, on par with cleaning after oneself. It is not subject to one's social hierarchy. Sorry, mate, I don't really want to be your friend if you're from this school of thought. And I am sorry too, that you think this way probably because that's how you were brought up.
Come down to earth. This is for the ones I don't really want to be friends with. I am sorry for being nasty just now. But really, maybe it was because we grew up watching our mothers who were so fortunate to have help around the house, or mothers whose careers took off so well they forgot to impact any domestic sense (let alone values) to us, that we never saw any value in cooking. But do we want the same "legacy" for our children? And if so, what are we really teaching them? That they can always pay someone to cook and clean their butt, hopefully not simultaneously?
Okay, I think that's enough for today. I shall continue with the other reasons later this week. Meanwhile please feel free to share with me why you think we don't cook.