This weekend was apparently the first Advent. The first day of Advent? Adventing? I am not sure, but something related to that most beloved holiday of Christmas was already happening.
And apparently the activity to celebrate it properly, was baking. Cookies specifically. Now I normally do not really bake. There is 1 cheesecake recipe that is quick, convenient and easy to make. I will occasionally help out others, but I do not voluntarily bake.
I do not know exactly what about baking does not interest me a lot. I think it is the fact that you are not making a whole meal. Baking can take just as long as cooking, but then you have a cake. A whole cake. Which you then probably need to share. Sure, sharing is caring but at the same time, why? I can also just make food for myself. Let alone the fact that I feel it is even sadder if you spent hours working on baking something and it turns out average. Or worse, bad.
Also, thinking about baking I feel that there is in a certain sense less baking in the traditional Chinese kitchen. There are lots of sweets like mochi, buns, cookies, but I would not make them myself. I would buy them, a lot of people would. Because many homes did not have an oven, and also some of these sweets are very intricate and complicated. I would rather spend time queuing for that than making it myself and having sub-par taste.
But of course, my grumpiness can be mitigated with good company and easy tasks. Shaping the cookies and eating the raw dough bring me joy. I am not immune to the excitement that you can get by intently looking at the oven window, although currently my oven is placed so high I barely see anything that is in there, nor to the thrill of tasting a cookie. And not that much can go wrong in the end. So I will not bke voluntarily, but I will definitely help voluntarily.
Ready-made meals. In the Netherlands I could take pride in the fact I most often cooked myself. Now that I am too lazy, I can still say most food is sort of home-made. Or at least prepared in a kitchen?
This is of course not the whole story. I have recently started reading a book which does give more of an idea of the whole story. Of course most people with a marginal interest in food, would only deem it natural about half of the time. Especially if you see what is dished up on this side of the world.
China is a country with a long culinary history, like many Asian countries. However, the fact that there are really well-prepared, exquisitely flavored and beautifully presented dishes, does not mean you see them daily. In fact, it is quite funny that most restaurants use menus with pictures in them. The food is bound to disappoint in one way or another.
Balance is a delicate thing, and something that a lot of the things you might order in China are devoid of. Especially the Northeast region is famous for its large, heavily flavored dishes. Too salty, too sour, too sweet and too much. Order a drink in any cafe (whose service might vary, as described earlier) and it will be heavy on the sugar. Although I love my hot morning breakfasts, they are definitely not light. Fried, with a few heavy sweeps of soy sauce marinade and spicy peppers.
So the disbalance that I sometimes experience daily here, is definitely one of the reasons for doing a bit more sports. It is kind of paradoxical that on the one hand I eat more varied here, since I could not be bothered to make many of the dishes I eat myself, but not necessarily healthier. Whereas in the Netherlands you can feel a bit more controlled over your sugar intake for instance, that is almost impossible here. I have even heard people complaining that the toothpaste is too sweet. Sweet tooth would be the perfect brand name for that one!