What My Grandma Taught Me about Love

It’s the end of February, the month of love, and I don’t have anyone to celebrate with.

This is a statement. Not an invitation to pity me or some sort of identity crisis. *very sensitive regarding this matter

I actually don’t think much about it. Until today, after I cooked lunch for my family, I remember my late grandma.

Let me tell you the background story:

I feel a bit lost these past months. Feeling a bit down because of some problems. Cooking is usually one of my favorite weekend activities, but lately I don’t feel like doing it. I don’t see cooking as a chore, I see it as a therapy – a chance for me to decompress (hence, I prefer to cook alone – I would love the companionship of music, but not other person).

But lately, I don’t even feel like cooking for myself. I just bought fast food for my family that full of preservatives, flavoring enhancer. And then I ate just whatever I found in the fridge.

After many weeks of seeing my Mom ordering food from nearest restaurants (nasi padang, soto mie, sate padang – on loop), I told myself that I need to get back to the kitchen. I told myself: “Let’s cook something nice, if you can’t cook for someone else at the moment, Amanda, at least cook for ourselves.”

I produced some of my best dishes today: Mushroom and Silk Tofu cooked in Sapo style (you can smell the fresh ginger!) and Prawn Fried Rice-Noodle (I added a little bit of Chinese soy sauce and it tastes like magic!).

After that, I went around my Mom and Step-Dad telling my dishes today are restaurant-level! Chinese restaurant level! They should eat it. THEY SHOULD EAT IT NOW. *I’m annoying like that.

I took a pic, posted it to social media. I feel like myself again.

So here’s the thing, I usually cook for people around me, I show my care and love through cooking.

I connect best with people who give their utmost respect to food, who enjoy a stroll between Singaporean street hawkers only to find the best Yang Chouw Fried Rice and Red Chicken Wings. Someone who told me that they found the best Salted Egg Yolk Prawn at the north of Jakarta (my auntie does this from time to time, she’s obsessed with Salted Egg Yolk Prawn, I love her) or someone who’s considered a bowl of steaming Goat Leg Soup sprinkled with Melinjo Crackers is worth every pain he would feel afterwards (my uncle does this, I love him too, please stay healthy, uncle!).

I used to spend my time watching Asian Food Channel rerun, again and again. Amazed by how a person devoted his life for the art of ramen making, steam bun, pasta, burger. Touched by how they pay attention to their work, how they fulfilled their day by seeing people eating their dishes and feeling happy. Food is the basic of every living things, and it has been rooted in our history, in our life – I feel that.

My grandma. She cooked for people around her.

I remember when I was a kid, me and my cousins used to do sleepovers at my Grandma and Grandpa’s house. My Grandma would cook me boiled eggs for the breakfast, because she knew how I love to slice the egg. She would cook at least two types of dish for the Raya, because she knows my cousin, Una, doesn’t like spicy food. She prepared fruit and bread every day for my Grandpa. She told us stories about how my uncle always asked for goat-meat. Celebration means her home-cooked meals. There’s a cart decorated with tea bags, sugar, milk, cream, cups, and a pot of hot water at the living room, so people could make their own tea whenever they want, however they like it (my future home would also have a cart!). The table in her living room and tv room always have jars of cookie on it. She cooked the best Roti Jala and Kare. The smell of her favorite brand of rice brings fond memories.

She didn’t talk much, but she listened, she observed, and she took care of us, one by one.

When I care about people, I tend to remember their favorite dish, in the hope that maybe someday I could serve them the food that they like, or maybe eat with them. When someone is sick, I try to provide food that’s good for them. A porridge and banana for stomach problem, fruit of every colors abundant with vitamins for fatigue, chicken soup added with extra ginger for flu, pineapple and radish for sinuses problem, spicy and fatty food for broken-hearted soul.

I enjoy my time scrolling page by page in the internet and then cooking for that purpose.

I think my Grandma inspired me to be that kind of person.

My grandma loved many things. I actually don’t know if she really enjoys cooking, because she passed away when I was still in elementary school, I don’t have that much chance to know her better. Maybe cooking wasn’t her passion, but she loved us, and her family loves to eat, so to the kitchen she went? But during that short time, I saw her cooking a lot. She had this island-style table in her kitchen (I would have that too in my future home) and she would cook for hours.

My Grandma and my Grandpa (he inspired me to be a book geek, I’ll talk about him one day) are few of the persons in my life that I could say that I feel a deep love and connection with. It’s easy to love them. It’s simple. I love a lot of person, for many reasons, I don’t always have a chance to show it. And today, at the end of February, the so-called month of love, I think about listing all the people I could express my love easily to, and why some people are too complicated to be cared about.

Well, everyone has their own progress in life. I am a complicated human being too – not gonna lie about that.

But I’m tired. I want to be myself. I want to see what kind of person I would meet and what kind of memories I could make if I don’t have to think about unnecessary dramas.

So, let’s just focus on the simple love, shall we?

Happy Belated Valentine’s Day, and if you ever tasted my cooking, or if I ever provided you with food, there’s a big chance that I care about you deeply.

Just like my Grandma taught me how to be.

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