Friday, April 14, 2006

the economics of service

Recently I've been in cost-saving mode. Its not unnatural for me to switch modes ever so often, I think it maintains a form of balance of some sort, that I live on both sides of an extreme so I know how it is like, and just the general knowledge of being able to survive anywhere on any budget. The thing with cost-saving mode is that you would naturally have to turn to cost-saving places filled with other fellow cost-saving people.

The problem with being in this mode is I can never find the things I want. Sorry, need.

I believe that even though you are in a cost-saving mode one thing has to remain constant, good food. Now I am fortunate enough that I can reconstruct most of my favorite foods with ease, saving myself some money over there. But almost always I can never get the ingredients I need at a cost-saving place. So, when that happens, am I still in my cost-saving mode? I begin to wonder...

I was looking for something essential the other day, mozzarella. I was at 3 different hypermarket/supermarkets but there weren't any mozzarella. Why? Maybe because cost-saving people do not eat mozzarella. So I suppose I am crap outta luck if I thought I could easily get my thyme, basil, or creme fraiche. So I didn't.

After about 2 weeks into this mode I started to cook with more oriental(easily available) ingredients, which means soya sauce would be the major ingredient in almost everything. I'll refrain as much as possible from using oyster sauce, I told myself and am proud that I haven't gone to that deep end yet. Its in this mode that I started to rediscover what my mom has been using for years and years. The tastes, the spices, the smell. Its simple as well, but in a different form. There is less emphasis on fresh herbs used, more dry spices like star anise and five spice powder.

I actually quite enjoy it. So there's a shift in menu for me. But I still maintain that I like my pastas, and the use of fresh ingredients as well. Its such a different way of cooking, but I wouldn't say that either one makes me less happy with the end result. Its just food, and I ought to have fun with whatever I can get my hands on.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

instant gratification

Granted, we live in a fast paced urban landscape. Time has become a precious commodity, because we only have 24 hours in a day, so logically speaking, making full use of the little time we have increases productivity, doesn't it?

But does being productive makes us happier? For some people that sounds about right, but a lot of people I talk to aren't happy with being productive, either induced or voluntary. People complain about not having time to themselves, how they're always rushing here and there, sacrificing quality time with family. So much so that time becomes a valued commodity. Phrases like 'don't waste my time', or 'I don't have time for this shit', are becoming commonplace. That's also why 'instant' is the new marketing wonder, you can do anything under 10 minutes these days, from getting a haircut, to making 3 servings of noodles, you really can do a lot these days with very little time.

Sacrifice. Is that worth it?

I watched a show on TV yesterday, about Sicilian life. Now these people really live it up, great food, gorgeous women, and an easygoing lifestyle. They're sitting on top one of the largest volcanos on the planet. Sure, if they remain in the safety zone they oughta be fine, but its the idea of mortality that propels them to enjoy their life everyday to the fullest. They live with passion, which is what we lack in an instant world.

Which leads me to wonder about our lives now, about our mortality. Global warming is rearing its ugly head now with temperamental weather changes, freak storms, tsunamis, hurricanes, flooding. You know it, and you can feel that it isn't normal. Global entities will never be able to stop the polar ice caps from melting and submerging low-lying cities completely in the next couple of years by reducing emissions, and our reliance on fossil fuel is not going to change as long as we remain ignorant. So, really, when you think about more than ever, you don't really know how much time you have.

I know people who hold back on life. Its not that they lack passion, they are conservative. Releasing a little occasionally as if they were rationing for World War, questioning everything. I can't do that, life's too short to question certain things in life, the should have, or shouldn't have. If you feel like doing it, then go ahead and do it. By all means if instant gratification is your passion, then cook yourself instant meals!

There are some on the other end of the spectrum as well who overdo it. Where they endanger their lives because they want to feel the rush, the excitement, because, ironically, they don't know when their last day on Earth would be. That is instant stupidity. I think perhaps I'm a level headed risk taker, if there is such a thing. Risk analysis. Sure you want to jump off a cliff, or bungee jump, or start a bar fight because it makes you happy, because you like the intensity, because it makes you feel good. But if it ends up jeopardizing the way of life of the people around you who don't share the same train of thought and you get yourself into trouble, then alas, you have not found the meaning of life. At least, not yet.