I am an Asian who cooks more American food than Asian food (6 out of 7 nights). Is that contradicting?
As you may have noticed from food posts on this blog, there are not a whole lot of Asian food here.
1) Asian Grocery store for locating out of radius. I simply go once a month. While most Asian produces and sauces are more available in American grocery stores these days, I still cant get specific things like Thai chilli pepper or specific brands. Preferably Thai brand for familiar taste).
2) A Caucasian American born husband who is not thrilled with the idea of rice 7 days/week (what's wrong with eating rice 3 times/day????).
Hence this lady from a faraway land has to surrender and learn to cook Western/American food.
The very first time I was introduced to an American grocery store (Kroger to be exact), I had no clue what the hell I got myself into while in the spices/seasonings aisle.
Gotta be kidding me. Do you SERIOUSLY need these many spices????????...haha. It was such an overwhelming experience and my husband couldn't help much since the man did not know how to cook!!! Just imagine the confusing look on me who knew nothing about cooking except mozzarella cheese on a pizza. I picked up a few basic, most commonly used spices (based on a recommendation of a husband who tried to help but once again did NOT know how to cook AT ALL).
A second wave of shock and confusion hit me not too long after my first grocery store trip. My wedding in the States had been planned. Hence I had to register a Bridal Registry (we don't have such thing in my country, guests usually gift the groom and the bride with money).
So now my new adventure began at the Department store where I had to pick mostly cooking utensils to add to my list (since the husband didn't cook, what could you expect in a single guy's empty kitchen?) I was in awe as how many pots/pans/silverware/glassware one would need in an American household!?!? You can call it "culture shock" I suppose. Just give me a rice cooker, one pot, one pan and a spatula and I was good to go!!
With the help and guidance of a kind mother in law a task was neatly done in no time. Pheeeeew!
I have to tell you that prior to moving to the US, my cooking knowledge and ability was 1 out of 10. I only knew how to
1) cook rice
2) fry egg
3) make an instant noodle.
"Seriously, that's it."
My parents were so concerned because i had absolutely no interest in cooking whatsoever. Then you talked about making REAL and EDIBLE meals not just for myself but also for a man who made a lifetime commitment to spend the rest of his life with me? Wow! Pressure much?? Would I survive a new life in this country? That was a big question for my parents.
During the first few months of my life in the USA, I made several long distance phone calls to my parents in Thailand asking how to cook. I cooked lots of Thai food and experimented with American recipes. Sometimes they were okay, sometimes they were too creative and very strange (not edible) but my husband was so kind he ate them.
My mother in law LOVES to cook and she is great at cooking. I learned a lot of how-to and tips from her in the beginning.
What really helped speeding my learning process was when my in-laws started up a food prep business (not a restaurant). They thought it might be something that could keep me busy while waiting for all my legal paperwork instead of doing nothing at home. It was a fairly new and convenient concept almost a decade ago that the store cut and prep meats/veggies/spices and other ingredients then provide recipes. Customers come in to put stuff together in containers and freeze at home. Good concept for busy family so they can just pull that out, thaw and cook. Basically what the store did was to prepare the ingredients for the customers. In order to work there I had to attend a food safety course.
I quickly gained knowledge through working with several recipes and ingredients. All of sudden my cooking knowledge went from 1 to 7. I worked there about 6 months then landed a real office job so I quit chopping veggies. That really was a good learning foundation as it helped me understand the basic of American cooking.
(I can't say my passion is cooking because it is not. I would say it is more of a survival mode)