The new season of the hit Bravo TV series Top Chef is about to start tonight and I am so excited.
I learned how to cook late in life. In our home, I was never greeted with the smells of Khoresht or the sounds of kabab sizzling on the grill. Our kitchen was always the cleanest place in the house, almost as sterile as a hospital operating room. We hardly used it, just once in a while to brew coffee maybe, that was the extent of it. My dad believed (and still does) that eating in is depressing and always preferred to go out. My mom was happy as a lark not to have to cook since she had never learned it herself. To this day, she still relies on my grandmother to cook her favorite persian meals for her.
I had to learn how to cook for myself when I went away to college. The first year was horrible. I tried to make pasta and dumped the noodles in the water before it had boiled, so the whole thing ended up in a big pasty mess. I relied on those horrible frozen foods and tuna in a can. After a year of this, I decided it was time for a change. I got a cookbook and started experimenting with the recipes one by one. This improved not only my cooking skills but my shopping as well. I no longer ventured in the frozen food section and opted for fresh foods. If I was particularly in the mood, I would forego the supermarket altogether and instead have fun picking stuff from the Farmer and Fisherman's market.
I absolutely love cooking. It's not the eating part I enjoy the most. What I really look forward to is having my friends and family enjoy the meal (well hopefully anyway!). When they go for seconds, that's when I really get excited. Hubby always wonders how I would have the energy to put together a nice dinner after a hard day's work but the thing is, I don't consider it work at all. It is my relaxation. I love putting on some classical or jazz music, sip from a glass of wine while I cut and dice, stew and roast. Nowadays, I am having such a blast cooking everything from scratch for Ayatollah Crankyollah (my 7 month old). There is nothing so enjoyable as to watch his facial expressions (ranging from shocked to pensive to delighted...or alternatively to horror!) when I introduce a new food to him.
I am by no means what you can call a chef. I am still learning how to cook new meals every day, and I never had any formal training. But I really admire those who can re-invent old dishes in a new form, mix flavors that I could never dream of, and present it all in a wonderful plate that is akin to a work of art. Top Chef is something I follow religiously and a fun show that I would recommend for anyone interested in cooking. It's not a regular cooking show, showing you how to do the recipes at home. It's a competition between chefs, similar to another fun show Iron Chef.
In my neck of the woods, Top Chef airs on Bravo TV Wednesdays at 10. It is hosted by chef Tom Colicchio and the lovely Padma Lakshmi (who previously to this hosting gig was better known as Salman Rushdie's wife!)
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