Why you must learn to cook

Image from The Wider Image

I read with a heavy heart about how food is in shortage in Venezuela, and they are not alone. That is in stark contrast to the situation in Singapore, where people spend hundreds on a fine dining meal without blinking an eye, and even teenagers have deep enough pockets to swell cafes for overpriced food.

Just a few days ago, i bought fresh minced pork from the supermarket, and i have not taken note of the pricing for years (i usually just grab and go). I was quite alarmed to notice, this time, that the price has gone up to S$13.95 per kg, from S$8.95 just a few years ago. That’s more than 50% of increase! I think this is not merely telling us that inflation is happening, it is also telling us that food is running out!

Like it or not, i think everyone needs to be prepared for the worst. The day may come when you have money only to buy food for the day like it is happening in Venezuela. No, i’m not a paranoid, and truth be told, i don’t think it will happen in my lifetime, if it does happen. Nevertheless, it is a fact that prices of food are soaring worldwide, and the way to tackle it is to cook your own food.

If you shop for groceries, you’ll know that the cost of the raw ingredients is just a small fraction of what you pay at restaurants, or even hawker centres. Labour cost makes up the bulk of the price of the food you end up paying. And it is not always worthwhile paying for the labour. The standard of food is certainly deteriorating in Singapore in relation to rising costs. The short-cuts taken to make food tasty don’t always work – think MSG, and food that are made ahead which you can obviously tell.

I cook for two reasons. Firstly, the savings is huge, and i can eat food that i would not normally be willing to pay for (e.g. steak), and i can eat as much as i want to when i make my own food. Secondly, cooking is literally the only activity that gives you a taste of success.

I have to admit though, cooking your own food takes away the surprise element you get when someone else does it for you. That’s why i still very much enjoy being seated down in a restaurant or a cafe and being served, especially when i am travelling. Otherwise, back home, i enjoy mastering the art and science of engineering inedible raw ingredients to have the taste and texture that delivers the much needed daily doses of delight.

I suspect most people don’t know how to cook due to the convenient availability of food in this region of the world. I can foresee that in the near future, when resources can’t keep up with population growth and the world becomes increasingly poluted, many will be forced to cook. So why not start now?

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