336. Today, The Kitchen; Tomorrow, The World!

I successfully made mashed potatoes today, and ate it all for lunch without suffering any noticeable side effects. I daresay I have this cooking thing pretty much nailed.

Remember that time a few months ago when I said I should learn how to cook? Well. I did. And it wasn’t because I put my mind to it, focused my efforts, and worked towards my goal. No.

I was just desperate.

See, when I stopped working at the end of March, the money also stopped flowing in. But that’s alright – I have a couple of freelance projects, I still have some stuff left in savings; it won’t be too long until I find work to do, right?

Except no. Work (that I’d like to do) turned out to be the hardest thing to find. And by the time May rolled around, I realized that I will be out of money in the middle of June, if I keep up my spending habits. What is there to do? To have a decent meal outside costs at least RM10 (that’s about $3.50), and going out means consuming petrol, and might even mean paying tolls. The only solution was to be at home.

And cook.

I started with the basics: I could light a fire and make toast on the skillet. Then with the help of a friend, I also learned how to make scrambled eggs (which makes for a pretty good snack). Sausages and various hams were provided to me, and they weren’t too difficult to cook: just toss them onto the skillet with a little bit of oil and I’m set, as long as I don’t leave it there and wander off.

(God knows I do)

But mashed potatoes, man. I tried making it earlier this year, for my church’s Easter picnic. But before that story is told, we must go back to an earlier story: one that begins in December last year.

Last December, for a Christmas party, I promised I’ll make potato salad. I got all the right ingredients together: potato, boiled and peeled; eggs, hard boiled and diced; mayo, a whole tub of it; and enough coarse salt and ground pepper. I mixed it all together, and for reasons unfathomable, it turned into mashed potato. The several of us gathered looked at the mashed potato apprehensively before trying it with a little bit of the turkey gravy.

And good lord, it was the most glorious thing ever.

I figured that if I could accidentally make mashed potato, how difficult could it be to make it intentionally? I put the ingredients out, attempting to recreate the happy little mistake I made last Christmas. Except what came out didn’t even resemble potato.

“What is this thing?” somebody asked at the picnic.

Putting my last-minute copywriting skills to work, I told him, “Potato and egg medley.”

He seemed to buy it.

But this morning – this day of all days – I managed to create proper mashed potato. And the secret ingredient, I’ve discovered, is not eggs. Or mayo. Or any of those things.

It’s just butter, plain and unsalted.

I have never felt more accomplished.

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