I started cooking when I was just five years old. I hazily remember making sandwiches, salads and almond cookies with my mom. My tiny hands would try to pick huge kitchen tools and utensils; my young self was afraid of the gas and the fact that I might blow up the house. It was a strange feeling, maybe I was a little nervous, but never doubtful. Food was always a part of me — eating, cooking, watching food shows on TLC and Fox Traveler.
So what led me to cook at five? All I can think of is that it was the best decision I made in my life. When I was a kid, around four years old, I was deemed ‘obese’. I was bullied in school and no one wanted to be friends with me because I was ‘fat’. I still remember how I would cry every morning before going to school and make excuses. It was tough, going to the school every single day and sitting in corner, alone; not being good with studies and being hated by my teachers for it.
I never liked school back then, all I got was bullying. Not being able to stand up for myself was the hardest part and crying seemed the only option. I did my best to go home from school everyday. Eventually, my mother got fed up with my crying, so I had to stop.
The first time I cooked a meal was because for my holiday homework, for which we had to make a sandwich. I still have a photograph of that pioneering effort, a tiny me standing on a stool next to the kitchen counter with a wide smile. Honestly, at that point, I never thought that I would be writing about cooking.
Cooking gave me a sense of relief, of satisfaction and control. Cooking was my first friend, my first love and my first companion. I am 18 now and still in love with cooking. I am passionate about it and carry big dreams where I own a cafe and a bakery. But life doesn’t always go as you plan it, I am pursuing something these days that I don’t love and this frustrates me to no end. It makes me think that maybe I wasn’t passionate enough. But I know that the answer to this question is a straight up no.
I will never give up on cooking. I still think of running a cafe every single minute of my life: while doing assignments, while doing chores, while I’m sleeping, even as I talk; in everything. I know that this will be a reality and it will be the best thing in the world. I will fight all the odds just the way I fought all those bullies and I will be reunited with my love, my best friend again.
Recently, I wrote something of a letter to cooking.
I found you when I was only five years old and fell in love with you instantly, you’ve been my best friend ever since. I know that I am not good at expressing myself in words but I also know that you know how important you are to me. you were there when I had no other friends and you helped me overcome bullying, and I am grateful for you.
You’ve truly shaped me into the person I am today and I don’t think I would have been happy if it wasn’t for you. Not only did you teach me about food but also about love, you have taught me how to love myself and others unconditionally. I don’t know if it makes sense but yeah, not everything is suppose to. It has been near 13 years since we met and I’ve cherished you every single day. You make me who I am. You make me proud and I hope that one day I will also make you proud.