Blogs on recipes and videos of cooking demos dominate the internet.
Cooking competitions keep us hooked on cable TV.
Instagrams and Snapchats of beautiful photos of food constantly feed into our mobile screens.
And the new generation cookbooks, that have become showcases for fine photography of food more than pure collection of recipes, seduce their way onto our coffee tables.
Though I felt swarmed, I love them. I get plenty of ideas and inspirations.
One of my favourite British celebrity chef and television personalities, who also campaigns on food and environmental issues, is Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
I am very much inspired by his program called Three Good Things.
In his weekly program, he would host a friendly competition between three chefs, using only the freshest produce at his huge estate, River Cottage (UK).
The underpinning skill to create a winning dish is to keep it really simple. Using fresh ingredients and seasonal produce that tastes best at its peak, the key is to combine only three core elements, that complement one another in terms of texture and flavor, into a dish.
Along the same vein of simplistic cooking, Nigel Slater’s Simple Cooking came to mind.
Calm and unhurried. And perhaps a tad too mellow.
His show seems to be an experiment of sort. Intense in his concentration to understand the characteristics of his ingredients, he pares them deliberately to let the elements of each shine.
Effortless and simple cooking. The use of the least amount of ingredients. The apparent respect for fresh produce. Both programs echo the same concept in cooking. Less is more.
Not just that. An attentive viewer could not help but notice the indisputable clean and uncluttered kitchens.
The kitchen at River Cottage is set in country style, rustic and surprising uncluttered with only the bare essentials. The stylish contemporary purpose-built kitchen in Slater’s program is warm and inviting, everything item has its designated space.
In short, the core essence is: MINIMALISM
Is minimalism doable in reality? Especially in a household with kids?
It is a yearly ritual for me to have a thorough tidying of my home at the end of the year.
Every nook and cranny vacuumed. Every shelf cleaned. Every curtain washed. Every window pane windexed. Clothes that are outgrown, toys that have fully served their time, and anything that has been left forgotten at the far end of the cupboard are thrown out or given away.
The Chinese believe that one has to clear away the old to make way for the new in the New Year. A clean home will invite good luck and prosperity.
It is human nature to procrastinate. We need deadlines to get things done. We need something to hold us to a commitment and to prevent us from seeking extensions. Ushering the New Year with a clean home might seem superstitious to some, but hey, I won’t want to pass any chance of prosperity. Would you?
Hence, I have been very obedient to this ritual. By 11.59pm on the eve of the Lunar New Year, my job shall be done.
But how long can this state be sustained? Not very, I must admit.
New stuff will be needed. Life takes over. Clutter will build up all over again.
The vertical line up of clothes folded precisely to Marie Kondo’s instructions will begin to fall out of line, like a domino collapse. The books will begin to stack up like an unstable tower of Jenga blocks. My daughter’s school notes will be strewn all over the bay window which according to her, is an organised mess. I am surprised that she knows exactly where to look for her papers in the pile.
But the one place that will remain as it was on the New Year would be my kitchen. Uncluttered. Jiffy clean. With a tiny whiff of chai in the air.
A tiny space in my home where I can just sit on the floor by the sink to enjoy my tub of Mereer’s cherry merlot ice-cream. Undisturbed.
A sanctuary where I can immerse myself into what I love to do and focus in what I feel is important: cook (like my life depends on it).
The solitude in this minimalist kitchen is simply delicious.
“As a minimalist, everything you own serves a purpose or brings joy—everything else is out of the way, which allows you to focus on what’s truly important: health, relationships, passions, growth, and contribution.”
If you have any thoughts that you would like to share, do email me. I appreciate and read every email that floats into my inbox.
She loves food - all food especially spicy authentic Asian dishes. She sometimes wonders if she eats to live or lives to eat.
As much as she is adventurous with food, she also likes to cook. A proponent for home cooking for better health, she believes that it's only when we start to cook that we become more aware of what goes into the food we eat and vigilant of our food portion sizes.
She's a relatively good home-chef and could make a mean Salt Baked Chicken. But she claims that her late mother-in-law was way much better and her only regret is, in her own words,"Darn…I wish I had written down her recipes."
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