Approximately 50, yes, this is quite close to the number of first cousins I have. My paternal and maternal grandparents had 10 kids each. An average of two kids per family brings us to 40 and another 10, considering half of them have three kids, to a total of 50. Around 15 of us can get together at any family event especially weddings.
These days 15 guests is considered a sizeable gathering. Often I wonder, what was different back in my parent’s generation? Weren’t the ladies of the house overwhelmed when so many guests arrived? How did they manage? What was their secret? Weren’t then people demanding or finicky about food, health, cleanliness and other pleasures?
“Simple Lifestyle” my mother would say with great conviction. There was enough food to feed a guest or two anytime and left over was fed to the street dogs. Food was cooked on low flame for the entire day. It was so delicious that you could eat your fingers, but only one dish was served.
Guests were treated as family. There was no rule to bring expensive wine or wear a fancy dress. Nor was there any deadline for the guests to leave. If there was a wedding in the family the guests would stay for weeks. There was so much love.
What about kids? Were they all so well behaved? Of course not, we had our share of little monsters too. There was always mango or lemon pickle to strike a deal and on some occasions Malai (cream of fresh milk) and jaggery would do the trick.
I am a bit nervous when it comes to cooking. I can cook a decent meal on a weekend, but barely have the strength to follow the routine all five days of the week. I choose to freeze my food instead. If I am unwell or don’t feel like cooking I eat at the KOPITIAM.
KOPITIAM—a traditional coffee shop for meals and beverages. You can find one every 500 meters in Singapore. Each KOPITIAM showcases a range of food stalls and beverages. I can eat there anytime. I love to bring my guests there too. It has more choices than I can cook and the colorful pyramids of ice desserts can handle any mercurial temperament. It’s convenient, cheap and I have more face time with my guests.
Perhaps, I can start small and invite someone who wouldn’t mind my cooking, even if I fail. How hard could that be? And I will tear this veil of fear forever.
Were you always good at cooking? How many guests did you invite when you cooked the first time? Was the food enough to feed all? Were they family, friends or strangers? Have you ever dreaded a huge gathering? How did you conquer your fears?