At times, I do feel hemmed in and, as a result, I decided to approach daily living in a new way; through the foods I cook. I’m fascinated by cuisines from different cultures. The foods from around the world reflect the cultures that have developed them. The meats, vegetables, grains, and spices are indicative of the resources available. How food is used in combination and its preparation tell a story.
For instance, many of the French, Asian (Chinese, Indian), and Mexican dishes have rich, complex recipes and a wide variety of dishes. In contrast, South African, Ethiopian, and Okinawan have simple foods centered on whole grains, peanuts, rice, and yams, using little or no meat in its dishes. It comes down to resources. Readily available resources drive culinary innovation or its simplification.
In addition to learning the basic ingredients to form ethnic cuisines, the fun of cooking these dishes is itself its own reward. There is satisfaction in cooking something resembling food tasted in restaurants and during my travels abroad. And making foreign dishes has a wonderful psychological side effect; it broadens one’s insular world into that of a much larger global one. It tantalizes the appetite and imbues expectation of the new into the dining experience.
I may not be able to hop onto a plane and jet off to Hungary, but I can create the essence of it in my Hungarian goulash: its smells wafting through the kitchen filling the house with aromatic aromas bursting with flavors waiting to be savored. Incidentally, much of the Hungarian dishes I have come across are heavy in meat, potatoes, and lots of paprika. It is with food, created in my kitchen in South Texas, that I can expose my family to the greater world through their sense of smell and taste, and ultimately its pleasing satiation of hunger.
Cooking has fast become a passion for me. I love to cook, and I believe that love is the secret to its success. I feel certain that I will grow older all the while improving upon my cooking skills and repertoire of international culinary dishes. I can take that accrued knowledge and forever expand on it, thus enjoying and elevating a significant part of daily living with the foods I eat. International cooking is truly a portal to the global community.
- Chelse (The Lae Lae team)