If I were to pick one of the things I’m best at, eating would tie with first alongside procrastination. As such, I find that one of my favorite forms of procrastination is cooking; I’m essentially getting the best of both world.
Cooking here in New Zealand is a bit of an experience, predominately because of the lack of supplies. Both because I was only gonna be here for a few months and because of the price inflation due to NZ importation rates, I limited myself only to cooking essentials; a few herbs and spices like garlic powder, cinnamon, curry, and cumin. You can only image how dull that became after a while but so far I’ve been able to survive. The Asian market around the corner has been a godsend. Everything is so much cheaper, especially the fruits and veg. I’ve find myself eating fresher foods which has been very delicious.
At home, my cooking style is very sporadic. I only tend to follow recipes if I have a specific goal for my dish, like making carnitas or spicy korean pork. When it comes to items like fish and chicken I let my imagination take over and pretend to be master chef concocting something new found and surprising to the pallet. This is mainly why I don’t like cooking for others; no matter how it turns out I’m gonna eat it, and I especially don’t want people eating my food if it doesn’t turn out well. At the same time, this is why I love cooking. It’s very much like a science or potions class, mixing and matching in order to find a new groundbreaking food discovery. You can literally taste your achievement, it’s just that much better if it’s delicious.
Having only a few ingredients, my creativity is limited. I still love spending time in the kitchen but I think I’m rarely completely satisfied. I blame Gordon Ramsey and all the Kitchen Nightmares episodes I’ve watched, they’ve made me too critical of my food.
For those college students that are going or will be off meal plan, my advice is to cook in large portions. This has been an amazing time saver for me, being able to pop leftovers in the microwave as opposed to making a meal from scratch. The only downside is having to eat the same meal almost every day. You also have to be careful to look at expiration dates and plan your meals ahead of time. I have almost lost a few pieces of chicken and vegetables due to expiration and too much of a cross over with pre-prepared meals.
One of the hardest things about cooking for one’s self is the shopping. Not the actual process, I actually quite like shopping at the grocery store and thinking about all the possibilities, but the temptation that comes with it. When you’re walking down the isles and see that bag of chips or candy on sale it’s just so hard to say no, especially when your’re trying to eat healthy. Somehow they just magically end up in your basket. Not knowing the metric system can also be seen as either a positive or negative. You ultimately tend to overeat since you don’t know what 100 grams of cereal or rice looks like, but since the calories are in kilo joules it’s alright because you don’t actually realize how many calories you just ate; very similar to calories not being a thing during finals season. Carrying all your groceries home tends to be a drag as well. You come to appreciate the storage capacity of a backpack.
My time eating abroad has been a rollercoaster. I’m constantly fluctuating from eating healthy to eating junk food as a reward for eating healthy. Do I miss the food from the US? Yes, very much so. There are so many more options (turkey is not a thing here) and it’s also much cheaper in the US. But I also think that New Zealand is more efficient at providing fresher and more natural products, at least for the prices they’re charging they better be. I already know that the first things I’m going to eat are bbq, apple pie, of course mexican food, and maybe craft macaroni and cheese ( I’ve been craving that for some reason).