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Cooking As Meditation

I think my interest for cooking probably started when I was about 4 years old. I remember my mum teaching me to help her slice some carrots for a stir fry. At first she gave me a butter knife but it was difficult to slice the carrots evenly. Eventually, she gave me a small blunt knife. Needless to say, I had a cut on my finger the first time I used the knife. Instead of telling me to stop cutting, my mom wrapped a plaster on my finger and told me to carry on.

Another one of my earliest tasks in the kitchen was to trim the ends of the beansprouts. It used to be my worst nightmare! I always thought it was a cruel joke that my mum played on me. I would sit by the table and whined at the heap of beansprouts I had in front of me. Each beansprout had to be carefully treated to form a heap of clean, trimmed beansprouts.

The whole process of trimming beansprouts taught me a lot about patience. I grew to like the slow and painstaking process, at the end I always had a sense of pride that I made it through. Of course at that time I did not know that it was a form of meditation.

Many people see cooking as hard work. Nowadays, we are so used to getting what we want to eat almost instantly that we have become disconnected with our food. We want everything at such a fast pace that we have become entitled beings who do not value hard work as part of the process.

I am not going to lie! Cooking can be hard work and a slow process but the end results always pays off. Life is like cooking, you need patience and time to get the results you want but if you rush through, the food will not taste as good.

I love cooking, I really enjoy the process. From sourcing the ingredients, to preparing, to cooking the dish and of course, savouring the dish. Each process can be treated as a form of meditation. You have to be present and focused at every stage, measuring the right amounts of ingredients, cutting with a sharp knife and cooking it to perfection. Any one moment of distraction has consequences- a bad cut on your finger, under seasoned food, burnt food etc. All your effort would turn to waste if you are not present at any moment.

I guess I have to thank my grandmother and mother for instilling my passion for cooking. They both loved cooking and they were good at it! I still salivate whenever I romanticised the taste of my grandmother's chilli crab. It was delicious! My mother was a very good cook too. She was always willing to try new recipes and experimented many rounds until she got the taste right. She cooked Chinese, Thai, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean and Western dishes at our request.

When you cook with love and intention, it tastes a hundred times better than when you eat something that was rushed to prepare. When my mum used to cook, each bite was filled with love. She paid attention to each process and she was proud of the end results- all our happy faces when we tasted her cooking.

I know many of us are constantly rushing from one place to another these days and being "busy". A common statement I hear is, "I do not have time". I would like to ask you a simple question- what matters to you in life?

Health? Family? Career? Money? Status?

After having a baby, my priorities have changed. Family is very important to me now. With my husband working away from home these days, I really enjoy dinner time with my family. We catch up on the day's events and interesting encounters. Just like how I used to with my parents and brothers.

I would like to invite you to slow down and start cooking for your family. Take cooking as a time to unwind from your busy day. Even once day a week is better than nothing. Cooking together as a couple is twice the fun! My husband and I try to cook together whenever we can. Enjoy each process and treasure the time spent together.

Husband helping me make dumplings, it was fun to do it together and much faster too :)

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