What's cooking?
February 28, 2008

I was born with so many useless talents I make Chuck Norris a sad panda. I can eat like Takeru Kobayashi, sleep like the Sleeping Beauty (not with her, as we all wish to), snore like the beanstalk giant, belch like Barney Gumble and dance like Naim, our drummer. While none of the aforementioned traits are actually astounding, not everyone could execute them all, could they? For I, am nothing without these cringeworthy gifts.

Nevertheless, I wouldn’t mind giving up all of them for the one talent that surmounts the rest; the ability to cook. In the words of Robert Rodriguez, merely verbatim, “Not knowing how to cook is like not knowing how to make love.”

Which is a fair point... it's all about making love. And cooking blends science and art like no other. From the biological reactions in the farming of the crop, to the gravitational separation of the yolk from the egg, to the fusion of different chemicals in the mixture of the spices, to the embellishment of the dish before it’s being served -- bringing delight to our body’s senses of sight, smell and taste. This whole chain of activities, coming from the depths of the people’s hearts, for the people.

My current cooking repertoire is, simply put, dreadful. As a matter of fact, in this lifetime at least, I’ve perfected the preparation of zero dishes. Well there is boiling water which I can prepare flawlessly as it only involves flicking a switch. But even then, further downstream, I would put the boiling water to no further use than soaking instant noodles; which I’ll overestimate 93% of the time.

The earliest recollection of my cooking experience would be in ’94. I was 11 and it was a rainy afternoon. I was home alone, starving to death. After looking up and down for something to eat, I found nothing edible. There were these scented candles in the living room but wax sandwich couldn’t be good for the digestive system. I decided to have a go at this quarter full box of Pillsbury Pancake Mix, which was hidden deep inside the kitchen cupboard. God knows the number of critters who’d used the box as a pit-stop.

With only the Pillsbury Doughboy on my side, I managed to heat up the pan nicely and made me some 3 - 4 pancakes, which weren’t bad at all. They weren’t Aunt Jemima good but they weren’t Judd bad either. As I was stuffing in the last stack of pancakes, in came my mom and aunts who’d just got back from shopping. Looking at them leaning on the sofa, all tired from carrying their 32kg shopping bags, the least I could do was treating them with my newly discovered, special home-made Golden Bridge pancakes (nothing to the name, sounds majestic doesn’t it?); without telling them, to make it all more adorable no less.

It was then that I realized that I’m the world’s worst estimator. With the box now only an eight full, I figured that if I mix them with half the amount of water used earlier, I’ll get the mix right. Surprise surprise... I had the powder all diluted in water, to which Master Yoda would say ‘a failure, you are’. Into the sink goes the mix and I went back to my video game. Only for my mom to nag on me, saying how little I’ve done throughout the school holidays. So much for my charming pancakes eh?

But it wasn’t all about the lows. The height of my culinary preeminence came in ’01 when I was a prep student in Bloomington. It was a cold winter evening and there were myself, Judd and Ajep doing nothing in front of the TV, listening to each other’s fighter-tank sized stomachs grumbling. We were also at the time, penniless. Eating out was not an option and all that’s left in the kitchen were maybe some three pots of rice.

That year being the early days of the new millennium, we were all deeply inspired by the wonders of innovation and improvisation in solving problems. Ajep worked on the rice and I was mixing everything I could find in the fridge into the pan. Judd, on the other hand, was laughing at these Comedy Central stand-ups whose jokes he barely understood. The smell coming out of the pan was alright, so I was pretty convinced that I had the mix right -- no detergent or rat poison had accidentally gone in.

In the rice department however, Ajep was getting a bit restless. The timer on the rice cooker was like that teacher who’s teaching the class before recess, and never seems to stop even when the bell has rung. So he did what any hunger-stricken being would do. He ‘poured’ the half-cooked, sticky rice into the pan and had them ‘fried’. Since our understanding of basic chemistry was very limited at the time, we were under the impression that the water in the bits of rice would vaporize on the pan, leaving the rice dry.

And we spent the evening (trying to) eat these unintentionally fried, rice balls. If nightmares ever had a taste, it would taste like the things that we ate that night. Though we did try to minimize the torment by adding some 3 year old potato chips into our bowls, the effort bore no fruit. It did taste like rotten fruit though. Not surprisingly however, not affording anything else, we finished whatever that is we cooked that night before going to bed (in front of the TV technically) sleeping like logs, snoring away the memory of the dinner we had earlier.

So yeah, cooking is the last thing anyone in the world wants to be bad at.


asrif ko memang world!

aku lagi world

“Not knowing how to cook is like not knowing how to make love.”

Jeez, i suck bigtime at cooking, dol!

Maybe i shud look up at the Recipe of Kamasutra this instant !!!

For future sake, that is~

haha lawak ni Asrif.. but i thought Ajeep knows how to cook and Judd can make an awesome Ayam masak merah?

hehe.. thank god for wright food court eh?

Hanim, you can have my copy. :)

Tanjung, Ajep was having a bad day at the office I guess. As for Judd, I'd rather not comment further on his flammable dish..!

hahahaha.. ur posts never fail to make me laugh lar...

you know asrif, i planned to give this entry my full, undivided attention and then wow you with a comment so pithy and incisive that it would make you weep.

unfortunately, i read your first sentence, and then i decided, well, that pretty much says it all, doesn't it? and went to watch iron chef.


Hannaboo, now you're making me a sad panda. :_(

Serif, ble nak udate!!!!

your tv diners aint that bad, mate!

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Photography by Azalia Suhaimi

  • Asrif, b. 1983
  • Subang Jaya, Malaysia
  • asrifomar[@]gmail[.]com
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