Looks as though you do nothing but eat out. Being the poorer sibling, I’m doing more home cooking, and am at the end of a two-week stint of fending for myself.
No big deal I hear you say, except I’m on the island, and that changes things.
For those who don’t know, it’s a remote island in the middle of nowhere, and my nearest food supplies are at least a 30-minute boat ride away. And I don’t own a boat. Needless to say it, but shopping is done once a week.
I know what you’re thinking – why not grow some food yourself? I do try, but between feral pigs and water buffalos (no kidding) it isn’t easy. I do have more coconuts than I know what to do with, so this week when I made a green chicken curry…I used some store-bought coconut cream. Have you ever made coconut cream? I have and I was pretty proud of myself too (I even took a photo, above) but it took forever, and didn’t taste that much better. Half an hour’s work and all that sweat? Really, just buy the stuff.
Anyway, because I’m effectively a bachelor, that means I don’t have the shopping rigour of my better half, who not only makes menu and ingredient lists, but actually consults them while in the shops. I’m the boy who goes to the store thinking I’d like to make a frittata and comes home with onions, potatoes, and capers (because we were out) but no eggs.
Worse. My mind always turns to the most complex things you can imagine: Twice-cooked pork belly (simmered for two hours, then char-grilled)? Yep. Did that. Though in my defence, it is still charred meat – the caveman is alive and well!
Even when I do map out a week’s menus, I’ll get to the day and decide I want something else instead.
In some ways it’s like being on one of those cooking shows: “Here are your ingredients: You have one hour!” Only I’d lose miserably, because I’d be “well the pork belly’s going to need another couple of hours” when they tell me to plate-up. Makes me wonder whether they’re only looking for short-order cooks, but that’s another story.
Anyway. The finite ingredients make me get a bit creative. Sometimes that’s good. I cooked some Asian-style chicken (that I’d never serve to an Asian friend, even though it was delicious), and tonight, getting towards the end of what’s in the fridge, it’s a Spanish-style omelet. Again, something I’d never serve to a Spaniard.
But it’s interesting that as Australians we feel free to experiment with other cuisines. I think that’s why there are so many really good Australian chefs. That said, you really need to master a traditional dish before you can feel free to modify it. Apparently Picasso said you need to “learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”
I think there are too many chefs trying to run before they’ve learned to walk. My experimentation is more a matter of necessity, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t successes along the way. Come and visit and I’ll do the pork. It’s pretty sensational, though in retrospect I forgot one of its prime ingredients this time around. Ah well…