Over the course of the last couple of months, I have taken it upon myself to learn how to cook. I am no Iron Chef yet, but I have made some steady progress. I have discovered that there is a certain zen in cutting vegetables into equal sized slices and throwing it in whatever bastardized version of a dish I am making. I still don’t have the discipline to follow a simple recipe for two reasons: One, I usually don’t even know, nor have the items on said recipe; Two, I live in Israel and I don’t speak or read Hebrew, so I’m usually left not knowing what I am buying is. Weak-minded excuses, I know.

That hasn’t stopped me from making valiant, but misguided attempts at making meals from memory. My usual cooking ritual involves little to no preparation. I simply take a look into the little bits of vegetation and dead animals that occupy my fridge and freezer. Stare blankly for a few seconds or hours and attempt to recall some meal in my distant past that was cooked in front of me by my mom or aunts. Then I try to make them using a mental account of ingredients that were in it. Calling my mom or aunt for the recipe? Yeah, I’ll do that after I fuck it up for the second time in a row. A few times, as many as I can count on one hand, it has yielded some pretty delicious results. Other times ended in disgrace and the mockery of the culinary arts.

One of my first follies occurred when I started using vegetable oil to cook. I didn’t know there was a heat setting other than max-high on the stove. I would put the frying pan on the stove and let it heat up. Then I would pour the oil in and to my surprise it would start to bubble and spray all over the stove almost instantly. Making a mess on the counter and burn my retarded little self in the process. I also didn’t realize that slowly putting the meat on there will make the oil splash and cause it spread like wildfire. Some lessons must be learned the stupid way.

In my infantile attempts at self sufficiency; I’ve made a pretty good ceviche, tuna salad, shrimp monster quesadillas, yellow fish and pizza using pre-made dough. Nothing to be amazed at, but going from diet that mainly consisted of take out and microwavable food, its a start.

I feel I am entering the stage where I can look at something being made and basically understand what’s going on. I’m slowly working on educating myself on what the hell all this ingredients they are talking about in cook books are. I even have the bright idea of using my google translate to help deal with the non-English speakers at the grocery store.

I have cooked for myself more times in the last week than I have ordered food. Not everything I made was good, but I made it. There is a certain level of pride that comes from that. I am making mistakes in my cooking right now and like everything else in life, I’m learning from them. At least I’m scratching off the WHAT NOT TO DO’s of cooking. While I don’t aspire to be a world class chef, I do aspire to become competent at making a solid meal at home. Plus, chicks dig men with cooking skills.

~Raul Felix

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