The challenge of cooking without much kitchen tools has never been more real till now. As a self professed goddess of home cuisine, I am nothing without my chopping board, knives, mixing bowl, pans, pots, oven and kitchen aid. Bare bones is what it is right now. It will be way after Christmas before we see any of our Miami kitchen tools. I am severely missing them.
As a result, we have been eating out a lot. An average of 2 - 3 meals a day in our first few weeks. Which is pretty much every meal. Initially, it was enjoyable and a welcome treat because having lived in Florida, finding good quality Chinese food is far and few between. Personally, I don't crave very much Chinese food to be honest. My partner calls me a fake asian. Lol. I'm too health conscious and pedantic about what I put into my body on a daily basis to allow sin to creep in. And Chinese food is, to me, 80% sin, 15% joy and 15% healing. I know it doesn't add up to 100% and that's exactly my point. Excessive, rich and hearty. And healing, because when I am sick, I just crave good ol' Chinese food! On one spectrum it is one of those things that remind me of home, family, love and pure joy. On another, not so distant spectrum, is the mess it will do to your body in the long run. I love Chinese food don't get me wrong. In fact I LOVE FOOD, if you don't already know. Yet, it has been a journey of realising, you don't need to eat certain things everyday. We have a choice. Like Elmo says, some food is only meant to be sometime food.
I used to say I can eat dim sum all day every day. In the last 14 days since, my body has shut down that myth. You know you've done something right in the past few years in changing your relationship with food, when you crave for nothing but salad and soup. My relationship with food has taken such a change that I even wrote and recorded a song about it, little known to many. To me, I suspect anything that is quick and instant. Oh but I LOVE instant noodles! Especially indomee! My student days were filled with so much pleasurable memories of it! I actually have a gourmet version of the indomee. With truffle oil, coriander and so many bougie ingredients you would never find in a bowl of instant noodles! But it's oh so bad for you. Yet, instant noodles or any instant meal is one of those things you reach for when you are in a place of transit and trying to settle in to your new home, crossing continents.
The habit has to break. It also helps that my partner is somewhat carb-intolerant. It's probably an acid reflux digestion problem beneath the surface and we should get it checked out (after he gets his medical coverage sorted in Hong Kong). He gets really bad heartburns after consuming noodles, rice or anything starchy. In Miami, our regular in-home meals have always been a mixture of meat protein with quinoa, chickpeas, lentils, lots of cucumber and crunchy veggies. Grains are generally affordable in the US, with quinoa going for roughly $3-4 per pound depending on where you go. I have trouble finding chickpeas alone here in Hong Kong, much less talk about affording it. Quinoa is 3-4 times the price too.
But there's a the silver lining. The kitchen did not come as complete bare bones. There is an awesome fridge and a two hob gas stove. YES! GAS STOVE! EVERY HOME COOK'S WET DREAM! The previous tenants also left behind two pots and a small kettle. We can work with that. All we need is disposable ware that we can wash and re-use for the next 60 days. We got ourselves two plastic mugs, plastic plates, a bunch of chopsticks and saved the plastic spoons, forks and knives from our takeaway lunches, including the napkins. I've resisted buying any knife, chopping board or cooking pans. Because we already have them. They are just not here yet. Such a penny pincher I am. I mean, we also don't want to contribute to landfill. Just because we can afford it, doesn't mean we have to create a problem we have to solve later. Whether it's our belly or the belly of the earth.
So I got creative and decided, let's get back to basics. Let's prepare food that does not require a knife. I could make sandwiches - with boiled eggs, canned tuna, ham, cheese, lettuce. I could assemble them by hand without much need for tools. Ok, maybe not entirely. I have plastic knives and forks. That should be enough. And on days where we are sick of sandwiches, we can switch to a salad option with similar ingredients. Just add dressing, sparingly. And then there are days where we would want to eat out and that's ok. Moderation. Some-time food.
We are all creatures of habit but in a life living as guests in a foreign country, we are afforded the privilege to learn new tricks and renew the old dog inside us. Let's see how this pans out in this season of transition. Christmas time will be interesting.
Asian Australian food adventures in and out of the kitchen. Around the world. Like an oyster searching for it's pearl.