Saturday, October 6, 2012

Hand and Kitchen (This week's Photo Hunt themes)

Years (decades, actually!) ago, I attended boarding school in England. Because I was still a minor then, it was required by the school that I have designated guardians who, among other things, would take me into their care during exeats and half-term holidays. The way things turned out, the couple who were my designated guardians were a very traditionally English couple -- the kind of people who regularly dressed in tweeds, didn't believe in central heating (I'm not kidding!) and had a whole row of Wellington boots by the back door of their house to slip in and out of.

As it so happens, she -- who her husband and I would teasingly refer to as "Mrs T" in reference to her married surname's first letter but also because she often reminded us of Margaret Thatcher in certain of her ways and political views -- happened to be an exceedingly good cook.  (To this day, I don't think I've had Pavlovas better than the ones that came out of her kitchen, and I also have fond memories of her roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.)  

People often say that "a woman's home is in the kitchen" in a way that is meant to disparage. But for Mrs T, her kitchen truly was her realm -- so much so that when she was cooking, she literally would shoo her husband and me out of it because the truth of the matter is that our efforts to lend a hand often ended up slowing her down or even distracting her from her culinary efforts which she did take most seriously and carried out with much pride!

Over the years, I've realized -- and I think you can see where this is going, which explains why my entry this week for Sandi's and Gattina's Photo Hunts doesn't actually have images of hands or kitchens... ;b -- how right Mrs T was in terms of my place not being in the kitchen.  And living in Hong Kong, I'm totally able to have a way of life that makes it so that I haven't cooked a single meal in over five years! (Okay, I've cut up fruit for breakfast and boiled water for instant noodles but I don't think most people consider that to be real cooking, right?!)

I know that many people (especially those who don't live in places like Hong Kong) might find this state of affairs to be well nigh unthinkable.  But there are two fundamental truths at work here: firstly, I really do way prefer to eat than cook; and secondly, there truly are people who can cook so much better than I can -- so I just let them get on with it in the kitchen and enjoy the fruits of their labor!

As an example, take the offerings that come out of chef Bjoern Alexander's kitchen at Whisk, where I was a guest one evening a few weeks ago. More specifically, the photos at the top of this entry are of the Scotland, Germany (the chef's home country) and Norway courses of his seven course "Voyage" degustation menu.

Seriously -- there is no way I could create an oyster dish, salad and soup that's as beautifully put together and also delectably delicious as the ones I had at that dinner!  And it's not just that I don't have the hands to create such concoctions but, also, that I don't have the kind of imagination that would ever think of pairing together such as oyster, foie gras and grapefruit (for the "Scotland" dish) or having beef tartare as a base for a leafy salad (as in the "Germany" course).  

So can you blame me, really, if I'm just happy to leave the cooking to professionals -- and those who really love being in the(ir) kitchen; this especially so if they enjoy having me eating their creations with great gusto and delight?! :b


magiceye said...

Love your take on the themes!

Ann, Chen Jie Xue 陈洁雪 said...

2nd photo is interesting, Food or art?

YTSL said...

Hi magiceye --

Thanks! :)

Hi Ann --

Believe or not, both!

MaR said...

Great take on the themes!! ;-) No actual pictures of a kitchen nor a hand!! My husband is the hobby cook, he does our cooking.

Enjoy your cooking-free weekend!

Gattina said...

I had to laugh about your description of your English hosts and the cooking skills of"Mrs.Thatcher" ! The real English kitchen is very similar to the "real" German one. Except we don't have the famous "Yorkshire" pudding, but gravy as much as you want !
I take it easy with cooking, I have the chance to live in a town where we have the possibilities to take away plates from good restaurants which I just have to warm up in the micro wave.

Susan Demeter said...

Love the second pic. Its all in the presentation :) Great post I went with a more traditional shot this week. :)

Carver said...

I enjoyed your stories and memories. Also good shots of the beautiful food. I used to cook a lot more than I do now but it's so expensive to eat out (at least places with good food) that I still cook although it's nice when others cook for me.

Trekcapri said...

Hi YTSL, oh these dishes looks delicious. I enjoyed hearing about your boarding school experience in England. :)

I'm with you on leaving the cooking to others. I have to make a big production effort when I cook because it just doesn't come as naturally to me as with others. To me I'd rather do other things like searching the web for great restaurants. :) Kidding aside, I really enjoyed your post today. Fun take on this week's theme. Have a great weekend.

Sreisaat said...

Hello, YTSL! So in part you've been raised by an English couple :) I love your takes on this week's theme, cleverly discussing the themes without actually showing any of them. I, too, do my share in the kitchen. And at times, my husband, also. But I have to admit that if I am in the kitchen, he is not allowed to be there, hahaha.

I hope you are having a great weekend. Tropical storm Gaemi is currently pounding us with lots of rain. Here is my entry:

Photo Hunt: Hand{s}

YTSL said...

Hi Mar --

Yup, no actual pictures of kitchens or hands but I trust that what I have still fits the themes... ;b

Hi Gattina --

Thanks for reading as well as looking -- and I'm glad you enjoyed my description of Mrs T. She was a real character.

Re German food: hmmm, when I visited Germany, I got the Rheinland food and it seems like there is a greater fondness for sour tastes among Germans than English folks to my mind. But ya, both do seem to love potatoes and sausages a lot. :)

Hi Sue --

The second pic seems to have caught people's eyes the most. I was wondering whether it'd be the third pic... ;b

Hi Carver --

I'm glad you liked what you read and saw here. Re eating out being expensive: there certainly are some expensive places here in Hong Kong. Fortunately, there are more reasonable priced eateries -- and I also get a lot of free meals too due to a couple of my friends having the jobs that they do and their liking me as their dining companion! :)

Hi Trekcapri --

Thanks for appreciating my post and hope you have a good weekend too. :)

Hi Sreisaat --

I'm not sure that I was raised by an English couple -- since I did spend the bulk of my time in England at school. But yeah, they did have an impact on my life.

And oh my, you sound like Mrs T when it comes to the kitchen! :D

Re the weekend: have been indoors mostly today but am hoping to go out hiking tomorrow -- so fingers crossed re there being no rain tomorrow!

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

I love spending time in the kitchen. My son has grown to be a chef ~ maybe I deserve a hand for that!
Happy Hunting y'all~

chica said...

Lindas fotos e bem interessante teu post! beijos,chica

fredamans said...

Sorry I have not returned the visit before today, I follow you now so I won't miss a post! Many thanks for your gracious comments on my blog.

Your photos made me very hungry! Would love to taste some of that wonderful and colorful food!

YTSL said...

Hi Sandi --

I think you deserve a hand for helping your son love something that you also do. :)

Hi Chica --

My Spanish(?) is not great but I think you said you found my photos interesting -- in which case I thank you! :)

Hi fredamans --

I'm glad you (finally) checked out my blog! :)

Twisted Cinderella said...

Fun take on the theme! I can't imagine not cooking for five years!

bing said...

hello again, YTSL. it's been a long time i haven't participated. the change of your blog layout is cool, and even the color, too! :)

boiling water for the noodles is not cooking, i have to agree ha ha it's just part of the whole process.

for people who takes their culinary efforts very seriously, i think they wouldn't need a hand who only knows how to boil water ha ha

i admire the hand that crafted the food in that last pic.

YTSL said...

Hi Twisted Cinderella --

Heheh, I figured that fact would surprise/shock some people! :)

Hi Bing --

Cool re your returning to Photo Hunting and I'm glad you like my new blog layout. And, actually, I do know how to do more than boil water -- but I still am happy that I don't need to do more than that these days. :)

eastcoastlife said...

Whoa you lucky gal! Studying in a foreign land and having a wonderful host who could cook you good food.

If I were to live in HK, I wouldn't want to cook too. I only wish I had two stomachs. hahaha....

YTSL said...

Hi EastCoastLife --

Um... not always lucky -- among other things, my boarding school's food wasn't necessarily great. Yes, I did like the breakfasts but the dinners... eek! And the roasts there: the only way you could tell what meat they were was by what sauce was served along with them!!! ;(

The Fragrant Harbour said...

Cooking is a life skill! Like learning how to tie shoe laces and folding clothes? Or do you use velcro and have the laundry place fold them for you?!

We should all at least know how to cook a few dishes so that we can survive!

I know we are spoiled for choice in Hong Kong, but a good way to keep weight under control is to cook your own food!!!

YTSL said...

Hi "The Fragrant Harbour" --

I didn't say I can't cook. Rather, I prefer not to cook! Also, re tieing shoe laces and folding clothes: hmmm, I think one *can* get away with not doing so these days... ;b

More seriously though, I really do think that people can make a bunch of different choices. And I also think that it is possible to keep one's weight under control without cooking one's own food! :D