Street Food Galore
With the ever-increasing number of food trucks, food courts, hawker centers and mamak stalls, one starts to think "why bother?". And by the way, have you checked out The Big Group's newer eateries (they're expanding too fast at the expense of quality service and food, in my humble opinion) or the latest Din Tai Fung (err... the Singaporean one, not the one in KL) yet? Speaking of which, I'm also thinking of the Muar gluttons' street wantan mee... You see where we're heading? Exactly! Why bother cooking?
Look, I love eating out too. But too much of a good thing can be bad for you. How many of us actually pay attention to the amount of pork lard in that serving of char kway teow? The sugar and condensed milk in our teh tarik? "But it just tastes soooo good!", we'd whine. Sure, when it does and we get thirsty, it's probably a few ounces of MSG in the broth. It is affordable and convenient after a day's work, no one's denying that. But what are we doing to our bodies? And again, what are we teaching our children eating out all the time? More importantly, the children can eat without you? No, I don't mean you should hold it against them, let me explain in a bit.
"Home cooking is a catalyst that brings people together. We are losing the daily ritual of sitting down around the table (without the intrusion of television), of having the opportunity to interact, to share our experiences and concerns, to listen to others ... cooking in your own kitchen, where you are in control of the ingredients you use, where you fill the house with good cooking smells, and where you all share in a single dish, taking a helping and passing the platter on to your neighbor. Nothing can replace that."
When we learn about our children or families largely through Facebook and Twitter updates, I doubt there is much to say about the relationships we keep. I hate to say this too: a family that don't eat together most of the time, for any reason, is rather dysfunctional and sad. It can be an enjoyable experience for all in the family as long as everyone contributes accordingly. Much more healthy too.
Dinner dates at home. No negotiation. Recognizing that dinner time is bonding time, we can start by agreeing to be home for dinner on perhaps, all the odd weeknights (Mon, Wed, Fri). Simple rules to play by is that everyone chips in and not leave one person in the kitchen while the rest watch the evening news and wait. That's not fun and no wonder, nobody likes eating at home. Instead, help set the table, settle down, talk about the day, talk about the food, talk about what we want to eat the next meal and what'll make it great.
At the very least, we'll be happier knowing the family is working as a team, identifying and capitalizing on each member's strength (who doesn't cry when chopping onions; who's not afraid of retrieving dishes from the steamer; who's good at soaping or rinsing the dishes) while saving some serious dough buying our own ingredients and not clogging up our arteries with unknown commercialized recipes. Oh, and the satisfaction of seeing the work of our very own hands!
Let's allocate some time for reflection on Mrs Cunningham's wise (and precious) words. We'd all be happier, I think.