Monday, April 6, 2009

The blessings on the table that we take for granted

CITY folk are so lucky when it comes to eating out. Food is available practically round-the-clock and at almost every corner of the city.

My friend from Tasmania, who noticed this, marvelled at our good fortune. She has chalked up a fair share of local food knowledge within weeks of arriving in Kundang for her artistic residency.

By the end of the first month, she had shown me some of the best vegetarian food outlets and yong tau foo shops in Sungai Buloh.

When I told my friends living in the area about her discovery, they were surprised that such food havens existed. Of course, I cannot blame them for their ignorance.

These days, eateries grow like mushrooms after rain. Good times or bad, people have to eat.

Take a look around the city, or better still, drive into Jinjang, Setapak, Imbi, Pudu, or even Cheras and you will be surprised to see how houses are transformed into makeshift restaurants by nightfall.

Some have even become more popular than the licensed restaurants in the neighbourhood, which, by now, would have to lower their prices or be driven out of business.

The fact that there are as many nasi kandar joints in the city as there are seafood restaurants in the Klang Valley speaks volumes of our insatiable appetite for food.

Many of my friends from out of town often surmised that city folk were either filthy rich as they eat out so often or simply too lazy to cook. I told them that neither of these were true.

Sometimes, eating out is the better alternative, especially if you are single or there's only you and your spouse.

The economies of scale aside, getting home in time to cook a decent meal is often just as challenging as figuring out what to cook so that you do not repeat what you ate three days ago.

Most city folk would rather deal with the dilemma of deciding on what to eat at the food court. And the cost -- both in time and effort spent in cooking and cleaning up after eating -- is not exactly cheaper in the long run.

Of course, people who are lucky enough to be served home-cooked meals at their dining tables every evening can thumb their noses at eating out.

They can extol the benefits of home cooking to the envy of those who had to subject themselves to the daily doses of monosodium glutamate hidden in the tasty street fare.

I salute working spouses who manage to find the inspiration amid the perspiration to cook up something at the end of a long day at the office. Only love could have powered their stamina day after day -- not just the love for food but more importantly, the love for the well-being of their loved ones.

On the other hand, their other half who come home each evening and complaint about their cooking not being good enough should try and see if they could do better without losing their minds in the process.

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