On the eve of my official debut into the world of commercial food (i.e. making my first meal for someone else that I will get paid for), anticipating the possibility of getting bogged down in practicalities and losing sight of why I embarked on this in the first place, I wanted to revisit the core of why I am so interested in food (and, indeed, in making food for other people).
My maternal grandfather, a Chinese immigrant, was a professional chef who at one point was asked to serve as personal chef to a Middle Eastern oil baron. One of my earliest memories is of sitting on a stool in the kitchen of his restaurant, watching him stir-fry. I might have concocted this memory from the anecdotes of others (namely, my mother) but it still stands out as a memory of my past, whatever its origins.
At age 10 I served an omelette to my dad, who deemed it "restaurant quality" (i.e., that he would pay for it). I recall that he was on the phone with someone when I presented his omelette to him, and after taking a bite (while still talking) he gave me the silent thumbs-up, and I felt proud.
Since I first started cooking, I have enjoyed seeing how people respond to the food I create. Somehow I don't feel that cooking is a waste of time (although I don't particularly enjoy the clean-up afterwards). It's one of those rare things for me where I actually enjoy the process as well as the product, and the response of the people I cook for is a big part of process and product.
What I've realized I most like about making bento boxes is that it provides you with a set of parameters, within which you have free reign to exercise your creativity. Whether it's our CSA share (where the seasons provide the parameters) or a bento box (where there are physical parameters, and sometimes other guidelines), I feel most creative when I am given limits. Otherwise, anxiety takes over.
Wish me luck!
(Finally, I feel that I have been focusing altogether too much on the food part of this blog, and neglecting the language and linguistics part. I hope to remedy this in the near future.)