In the Philippines, when a child is said to have been ‘left alone in the kitchen,’ it means that they’ve raided the fridge and haven’t stopped eating since.
In my case, it meant teaching myself to cook. Even though I’ve since taken cooking lessons, I still find it hard to follow a recipe and am more comfortable winging it with whatever is on hand, though I also haven’t stopped eating.
The first thing I learned to make was egg drop soup which was basically a chicken bouillion cube dissolved in boiling water with an egg stirred into it. Nothing fancy or new, yet it felt like I had invented something great. It certainly was tasty, in the way vaguely flavored, salty water with a bit of texture can be tasty.
I would later learn that I didn’t really ‘invent’ anything, and had in fact concocted one of the simpler soups, but the magic of discovery, the joy of winging it, the wonder of the alchemy of the kitchen had been planted.
From there, I progressed to omelettes (though I only really lerned to fry an egg a few years ago), and then to stews and pasta.
I took cooking classes, though I never really repeated any of what I learned at home, preferring to rummage through the cupboard and work with what was there. Because of this, I have the tendency to think that the rack in the kitchen magically gets filled with garlic, onion, and ginger. I’ve since learned to do my own groceries, especially since I mostly cook vegetarian dishes, though I never really learned to measure.
Cooking, for me, is a form of improv, a kind of flirtation with the unknown. None of us ever know how any of my dishes will turn out. Luckily, most of the time, they turn out great.