Sea Of Love


I was listening to “Sea Of Love” by Cat Power (isn’t that a delightful name?) when I was reading a thread on the Makansutra forum where someone was looking for an activity to do with his fiancee as sort of a premarital getting-to-know-you thingy, much like those religious premarital workshops one has to sit through with a celibate conscientious contraceptive contestor, only less passive.

I thought that was a great idea. This idea was pushed further when a few days later I got an email from Martin who was looking to start a small cooking training gig. That’s when I thought I had a great angle to suggest, but I thought it safest to try it out first.

Initially, I felt my knife skills were a little shoddy and thought about requesting that but after some practice with fruits and vegetables, I thought otherwise. Instead, I turned to my one of my (they are Legion) culinary gaps: seafood. Martin warned that it could be expensive because of the ingredients.


Next up was to find someone to accompany me to the cooking lesson, mainly because I’m a little shy when it comes to attending things like this because I am absolutely terrible at small talk (it’s big talk or nothing) and I might be so absentminded that I would do silly things like melt butter without using oil; that hasn’t happened yet, but I worry.

I decided to ask Weylin of Only Slightly Pretentious Food because I recently read her incisive two-part review of culinary courses and most of all, she’s fun company.


Like all experiential encounters, you learn a lot by doing and you also learn more of a person by doing something together. Weylin’s a baker (a good one if you ask me, a good chef too), while I muck about in my kitchen thinking of ways to abuse cows cook.

The difference between baking and cooking is that baking is a science and cooking – despite what Blumenthal and This will have you think – is an art. This is evident in baking instructions (“heat oven to 120 degrees centigrade per kilometer”) and cooking guides (Elizabeth David’s famous “bring the stew to a shuddering boil”).

This is especially evident in prep where my roasting carrots were rough-hewn whereas her carrots were nicely sliced. This blog belongs to the culinary school of “Measure with String, Mark with Chalk and Cut with Ax”. In fact, she re-cut my carrots because Martin wanted them “shallot-sized”. Hopefully, this did not upset her too much.


Other differences was that I use a pinch grip and she uses a straight grip with the knives. And I absolutely suck at wrapping fish.

But I must say that the end results were pretty good. Pretty soon we were tucking into the food that we helped to prepare. And some one had a crab dinner that night. 🙂


Weylin’s review of the whole session was on the whole, balanced and fair for an advanced cook being shown beginner’s steps. It’s a wonder she didn’t cut our throats with her straight-gripped knife. But she’s a saint (who can use big words like “Marmalade” and mean it). 😆

So what did I think of the course? Well, the last time I was taught cooking, I was flanked by my grandmother and my aunt with the rest of the aunts (and my mom) observing and passing comments on my every move. So in contrast, this was relaxing and rather enjoyable.

For me, I think a cooking lesson as an alternative “couple’s” workshop is a sound concept that should be developed further, perhaps with a published curricular so that there is progression and expectations can be better managed.

In the end, I found the recipes to be useful, although like Weylin, I’m waiting for the recipe to be sent to me. The sauce was simple to make, versatile in its usage and piquant in taste.

Much like Cat Power’s Sea of Love.

(note: if you can’t see the player here, you should stop skiving, get back to work and listen to the song once you’re home. 😆 )

Posted on 23rd Mar 2009 in Food and Drink, Fun, Recipes


There Are 2 Comments


Ping commented on March 24, 2009 at 5:01 pm

Hi Ivan, saw your website link from ieat’s recent post on Newton (basically the newspaper article). Found your writing delightfully funny and a pleasure to read. 😀 I’ll be visiting often! Am a Singaporean studying in Germany right now. Miss home sometimes and I’ve found reading ieat’s blog a comfort when I get that homesick feeling. Will be adding yours to my list of to-read blogs! Cheers! 🙂


ivan commented on March 25, 2009 at 1:32 am

Hi hi! Didn’t know it was out already. 🙂 It was a short interview, so I expect it’s a short sound bite.

Thanks for your kind comments. Hope to hear from you again.

Meanwhile, take care.

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