Like any other average incoming college student, my cooking is definitely just a survival skill: the colorful array of spam and sunny side up eggs, and if I’m feeling a little fancier, maybe some instant ramen decorated with colorful garnishes are all I can whip up. I have always loved to eat; my parents used to always laugh that food was my first passion. I probably learned to use chopsticks before I learned to walk! My family traditions revolve around food, and we connect and bond through meals, yet the ironic thing is that I myself have never spent the time to learn and master the art of cooking. Growing up with elaborately prepared homemade meals as well as cuisines from different cultures and regions, I have learned about other countries and their origins – how their recipes are passed down through generations and how food is prepared can tell so much about a country’s origins and its people’s stories. For me, eating and relishing in good food is about so much more than enjoying the taste; the process of preparing the food, serving it, and then enjoying it with others makes it a ritual characterized by nuances in flavor and experience. While I appreciate food and the way it bonds groups of people and individuals, I would love to learn how to cook and share the primal experience with my grandparents, the ones who have cooked with love for me all throughout my life. Through reading food blogs and magazines, I discovered that cooking is really an art; with thousands of ways to dress and garnish a salad and countless ways to perfect a cheesecake, there is so much I want to learn, but I am committed to learning the basics first. Perhaps I can start by learning to craft my own dumplings, a comfort food that I know well from home cooked meals. With shrimp, pork, chives, and green onions slathered together in a large bowl, and a chewy dough for making dumpling wrap, I would like to braid and wrap the dumplings myself. They say that when you cook the food yourself, you can taste the layers of the ingredients separately; maybe after cooking myself, my tastebuds will be enlightened! For all the times my grandparents and I shared tea and dumplings together, I would hope that I may return that gift. It really is on my bucket list to cook a home cooked traditional meal for my grandparents, the chefs who have taken off their high hats and passed them onto me. I am so enthralled by the seeming simplicity of cooking a bowl of noodles, for example. From a package or from scratch, is the first dilemma. I think the latter shows a chef’s true valor. The specific way to knead the dough for the noodles and the thickness of the noodles after one cuts it fascinates me most; it is the art and practice that makes it a craft. Then, I hope to be able to cook a bowl of noodles to with the perfect bite, a comforting warm broth, and the right garnishes to top off the deliciousness underneath. Cooking to me, however, is about perfecting an art and challenging oneself to create the best product, while serving and eating is a communal event – the aftermath of the storm one has cooked up in the kitchen. While I really hope to learn the traditional recipes and styles that I have grown up with, I am also looking forward to adding my own flavors and modern twists on those recipes as a chef. With my varied tastes in other cuisines from around the world, I look forward to experimenting with the spices and flavors I remember and one day traveling to those countries to rediscover the native cuisine’s distinctness. I aspire to be the chef for my family one day, as I add my own style and subtle originality to the carefully crafted generational recipes my grandparents have gifted me throughout my youth.