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Last week I attended a Malaysian cooking class at LaZat, organised by MANZA. Lazat, as we were told, means ‘delicious’ in Malaysian. I found this cooking lesson interesting for two reasons.

Firstly, I learned quite a bit about Malaysian cuisine. We cooked Menu Set A, which comprises of an appetiser called Kuih Cara Berlauk, the national dish of Malaysia called Nasi Lemak, and dessert of Sago. I learned about the spices that are used in these dishes — which are ‘typical’ Malaysian dishes — and about the main method of creating them: patience. I know that a slow-cooked meal will more often taste better, but in these cases, under- or over-cooking would literally ruin the dish. Better to slow-cook and have complete control over what’s going on.

It was especially interesting to learn what goes into the spicy sambal paste and how to create it myself. Usually, I’d buy this paste (and truthfully I probably still will in most cases out of convenience) but I’m happy to know that I could create it if the occasion, or my enthusiasm, arose.

As a bonus, I learned how to properly crack and break an egg with one hand, and how to cut a boiled egg in half with an 80s infomercial zig-zag pattern. I also learned that while it’s nice to be under a fan while you’re cooking, it’s not the best place to cook from since the fan breeze will put out your very-low flame, which in turn will hinder the cooking of your coconut rice. Well, in my case it wasn’t so much hinder as it was stop. Luckily, it was salvageable (by the instructor, not me) so I could at least take some home for dinner :)

In summary the cooking part was quite good, even if my meals weren’t perfect. The meal did taste great, while presenting less-great. I can live with that for a first time effort.

The second interesting part was related to what I talked about in my last MANZA-related post: MANZA combined with my newly found free time. This cooking lesson was populated with about eight women, and two guys (one being me, and the second being Benjamin, a Korean dude who I felt was learning skills for a potential job. I felt this because he was taking some serious notes during the whole day, and also had a sit down with the instructor while we ate lunch, where he took more notes. Also, his Kuih Cara Berlauk tasted great.

Anyways, I again had the odd sensation of time slipping away, of a need to be somewhere else. I kept it under control this time because I knew it was crap. But I did realise another thing: the daytime MANZA events, which I am in a perfect position to attend, will be more or less always populated by people-who-aren’t-graphic-designers, and those who are middle-aged women. I have nothing against the daytime MANZA crew, obviously not, but I’m just not sure the daytime casual events are for me. I mean, I enjoyed the class, and the company, but I feel my conversational contributions are a bit limited.

Who (other than graphic designers) wants to chat about best practice for UI design? Or the most recent Antennagate developments? Or even their hatred for Comic Sans?[1. Which, by the way, the whole Menu Set A recipe books were set in ;P] I’m not sure the design nerd-related topics would go down so well. Perhaps some coversation on Japanese knives and proper sharpening techniques might be better? Or The Sopranos? Or my surprising love of Chillwave? Hmmm…

Maybe it’s not people-who-aren’t-graphic-designers that are the problem, maybe it’s just people-who-aren’t-me?
A pretty poor view of things when I think about it. There were several times during the day when I felt I wanted to be back at home in front of my computer, working on my remix for James’ band The Black Hundred. Admittedly, I really only felt this during the stirring of the rice, or the agitating of the sambal — both tasks needed low concentration — but still, It’s something I felt. And as long as I have personal projects going on, I think I’d prefer to work on those over other things.

Or, perhaps I should just harden (soften?) up and absorb what the non-design-nerds have to say about life in KL. I might even learn something.

Photos of food © Megan Jones, used with permission.