My Lola (grandmother) was the goddess of our kitchen. She did all the cooking when I was growing up and when we tried to whip something up ourselves, she would scold us for not doing it right (read: her way). You see, my Lola was quite the control-freak (read more about her O.C. ways here and here). So I never learned how to cook. Seriously. I had no idea how to cook rice (yes. seriously. rice.) or fry an egg or even a hotdog. :(
But with all the Food Network shows I had watched, I seriously believed I was a natural chef - deep inside. With kitchen magic waiting to be unleashed if only I would be allowed to do the cooking. But when I had my own kitchen, my busy working-mom schedule (read: laziness) kept me from unleashing the magic. It was only when I was sent by my office to Singapore for 6 months that I finally got compelled to actually cook my first dish lest I have takeout Yoshinoya beef bowl yet again.
I was actually excited. I decided to start with something I thought was easy since there wasn't a restaurant in Manila that didn't serve fried chicken. I bought my drumsticks and McCormick coating mix from Marketplace in Paragon. I even saved the McCormick wrapper because I thought I would put it in a scrapbook as the dish that unleashed my kitchen magic.
I unleashed something alright. More horror than magic. I didn't know at first. My chicken was the perfect golden brown on the outside. And when I speared it with my fork and cut off my supposed first bite, it unleashed the bloodiest insides I have ever seen! So I put it and the rest of the drumsticks back in the pan and fried it some more. Fry, cut, fry, cut, I went. And in the end, my chicken was burnt black on the outside and still bloody red on the inside. Sigh.
Turns out there isn't a masterchef deep inside of me. I did survive the 6 months though. I had my canned hot & spicy tuna from the very Pinoy Lucky Plaza stalls which I ate with the rice or penne pasta I eventually learned to cook. I mastered heating various bottled pasta sauces for my penne and learned to cook my weekend breakfasts: bacon and daing na bisugo (dried salted fish to get back at my Indian neighbor whose nightly curry's smell would travel through the hallway and into my apartment!). I did accomplish cooking adobo but ended up eating it for over a week so that was the end of following a recipe (which was always way too much for just one person). My adobo was pure pork since I steered away from chicken after that first cooking disaster. It's been a couple of years since, but fried chicken remains to be my Everest. I wonder when I will have the courage to try frying a chicken again?
Photo from life123.com.