i've been having a very slowly blossoming realisation over the last few weeks about the joy of cooking and its made me think a lot about how bad we've become at experiencing delayed gratification.
for context, I've been spending the last few weeks of the holidays with my boyfriend, who also happens to be an amazing cook - the pure passion and joy he exudes whilst cooking was one of the first things that drew me to him.
but for a long while, i didn't quite pick up cooking - at least not without him there to help me out. i just felt like it took too much time, i couldn't be bothered, and especially when i was satisfied with my 'cooking' (which mainly consisted of many avocado toasts and bowls of cheerios), there wasn't a real incentive to try that hard.
and yet, these last few weeks whilst I've been at his family house, i've found myself trying out new recipes to cook for him and his parents. i guess at first i started it because i felt bad for staying there without paying rent, and just using up their gas/water/electricity so i wanted to contribute something. i still remember the first meal i made on my own, which was a bowl of laksa noodle (from my home, Singapore). i low-key cheated by using a store-bought paste, and it was honestly a really simple thing to make, but when they walked into the kitchen and were awe-ing at the smell of the food i made, there was something really deeply gratifying. it wasn't exactly a feeling of 'proudness' but more like a sense of 'doing something for others' that made me feel warm and fuzzy.
after that day, because my boyfriend was too busy with work and because i had finished my term so there was nothing to do, i started cooking or baking every other day. i made stuff like clementine cake, lime tarts, mushroom quiches and even some bagels. the more i did it, the more i realised that there's something really genuine and gratifying about putting in time and labour to create something that can bring joy to others as well. it's hard to explain, but i hadn't felt this in a long while.
how had i not experienced this emotion more in the past? i guess as our society has optimised itself to the point of instant-gratification for literally every possible thing you could think of, these kinds of time-consuming activities are becoming less common. everything has to be quick and simple. i remembered listening to a podcast a while back about how an archery teacher started noticing each year that there were fewer and fewer children signing up to his classes - perhaps because theres an increased preference for things like computer games which provides more quick-wins. thinking of the children in this age and in the coming ages, spending much of their youth with their eyes glued to screens made me sad.
i guess i just i hope that these last few weeks of deeply immersing in cooking will not simply be a temporary phase i went through. i hope that in realising the deep gratification that can only be created by investing time and labour into something, i can continue to seek more of these experiences. most importantly, i hope that i can catch myself when my pursuit for optimisation is costing me the pleasures of taking things slow.