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).