CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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Cooking up a storm

HONG KONG (SE): “When you get married you need lots of patience,” celebrity chef, Vicky Munar, said in welcoming some 40 members of the CARD MRI financial literacy group to an afternoon cooking class.

“And when you are cooking you need as much patience as you do with your husband,” she quipped, stressing that producing a delicacy requires practice, trial and error, in addition to painstaking work in presentation, as well as expertise in preparing ingredients.

A fun afternoon at the Bayanihan Centre in Kennedy Town on October 9 saw Elpie Abel and Jhoan Gonzales Cabodil demonstrating the art of making donuts and empanadas.

While the donuts take time, as after the initial kneading the dough has to sit for a lengthy period before it is ready for cutting and cooking, the empanadas are relatively quick.

However, while both arts may require the patience of married life, they also require the attention of a doctor diagnosing an illness, as the process is full of instructions like “the oil must not be too hot or too cold, or cook at 180 degrees in the oven for about 20 minutes or until it looks right, a pinch of salt, a drizzle of oil, a splattering… a few grains… or a sprinkling!”

While a doctor reads symptoms in diagnosis, cooking requires knowing the symptoms to judge when things are spot on.

“You know when the dough is adequately kneaded when nothing comes off on your hand,” Munar told the group.

Both Abel and Cabodil gave hints on reading the symptoms of when the oil is not too hot and not too cold, and when things look right.

It looks right when the cook knows how it is supposed to look at the point of perfection.

At each step along the way there were valuable hints in getting the final result spot on. Some things can be taught, but others have to be learned the hard way, by making mistakes.

This is both the challenge and the fun at the stove.

But while food is for eating, it also needs to tempt the appetite, so it is important that it is presented well. Folding the wrap on the empanada, a cross between a dim sim and a spring roll, can be utilitarian or artistic, depending on how patient you are at developing nimble fingers.

Abel and Cabodil demonstrated several ways of producing a variety of patterns and everyone got a couple of wraps to try it for themselves.

But the real fun of the day is in the proof of the pudding—eating the result. If the taste is good, there can be forgiveness for poor presentation, but if not, maybe a reflection on your patience is the way to go.

While some may ask what cooking has to do with financial literacy, Munar is quite clear, as a teacher professionally, as well as a presenter at financial courses, she says that all round skills in your profession help people to hold a balanced attitude towards life in general, an essential element in organising your money well.

For a domestic worker cooking is a valuable skill, as all are professional chefs, because they cook for their employers and get paid for it. Professional!

A fun afternoon cooking up a storm ended with a mini feast of donuts and empanadas, lots of laughter and a bit more confidence for many people when they go to the kitchen.

Munar was named a celebrity chef by the Sun newspaper in Hong Kong. A patient woman in the kitchen, she is in a hurry to share her skills and knowledge with others.

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