March 5, 2021

When you ask most of my friends today, they’d probably say that they’ve been to, at least, one of the many dinner parties I’ve hosted. This was something that I’ve always loved doing—cooking, and social entertainment might be two of my most dominant love languages. However, it might come as a surprise when I reveal to people that I didn’t grow up cooking and that cooking was that one task I didn’t particularly appreciate while growing up…

Don’t get me wrong—I loved eating! It’s just the cooking part that I never really liked enough actually to try it.

I grew up watching my grandparents cook. My Lolo (grandpa) always knew how to make the most delicious Filipino food, while my Lola (grandma) always made snacks that I loved eating as a child. They were the center of my childhood, and their cooking played such a pivotal part in my upbringing. It’s also thanks to them that I never really needed to learn how to cook at such an early age because they’ve both showered my brothers and me with delicious food.

Although, as much as I loved eating whatever my grandparents cooked, it might’ve turned into one of my downfalls.

I moved to New York when I was 19 (almost 20). All my life, my family has sheltered me to be a good Asian daughter. My main role was to care for my aging grandparents while I flourished as a Lawyer. Well, that was what they wanted for me. I wanted something completely different. I might’ve broken my family’s heart when I announced that I was not proceeding with Law School and that I was moving to a completely new country. Yes, it did come as a surprise, but just like everything else I’ve done in my life, they’ve always been so supportive.

So I pushed through with my plan to move to the United States, but then I knew that I was in big trouble on my first few weeks in the country. I had no idea how to cook some of my most favourite dishes that I grew up eating! I realised that I’d never really needed to cook anything, let alone hold a knife before. So what was I to do?

During my first few weeks in New York, I tried ordering take-outs. It was the only thing that I know how to do, but then I realised that my take-out bill was stockpiling. This was something that I couldn’t keep up with since it was so expensive. Then I finally made my way to my local grocery store. There I found myself waltzing through the aisles and simply grabbing every single thing that caught my attention.

On that first trip to the grocery store, I bought some fresh produce, a pack of pasta, and a jar of sauce. Obviously, pasta was pretty easy to cook, and so I mainly stayed on the safe side. I didn’t want to mess this up. It turns out that cooking was actually pretty therapeutic. Who knew?

Then I got fed up with all the experimental pasta that I tried to cook during the first few months. I knew I had to cook something from home. The only problem is this: Filipino food was very intricate, and I had no idea how to make a single dish! Luckily, one of my best friend’s mum had a catering business. She knew every single recipe that I loved—plus, let’s not take out my family whom I’d call while I was panicking because the chicken adobo I cooked didn’t taste quite right. It was chaos, but I was learning.

After my first year in New York, I’d learned how to make all my favourite comfort food, and I learned how to make even the most amazing food that I’ve tasted from all over the world. I can proudly say that I make a mean apple cobbler and make pad thai that’s pretty similar to those I had in Bangkok. One of my friends also said that he learned how to make sushi from me…and I’ve never even been to Japan!

Sometimes, cooking really springs out from necessity. Well, there might be those people who grew up loving cooking, or they simply knew that they were destined to cook. There’s nothing wrong with that, and that’s completely normal. However, I’m not one of those people, and that’s alright too. I’ve come to terms with my flaws, and that’s okay. What I do know is this: I’ve grown how to love cooking because I had to do it to survive.

I’ve actually talked about this with my great friend, Bernardo Rojas de Luna, on a podcast episode that we did together. You can listen to this podcast episode via Spotify.

If you’re someone who loves cooking, may it be because you grew up doing it or because you simply had to, I’d love t know more about your journey. What has been your favourite food-related memory, and what has been the dish that made you fall in love with food? Let us know by leaving a comment below, and let’s talk!

As our favourite chef always said, “Anyone can cook!” That pretty much sums up my journey with cooking. Simply believe that you can, and you will. You’ll see!

*Photo is by Max Delsid via Unsplash.

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”

John 5:24 NIV

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