I have a confession: I’m stuck in a loop regarding meals. And not just any loop – a loop of familiar, tasty, comforting dishes I happily eat repeatedly. Whether I make the meals myself (very rare these days) or get takeout, variety is not on the menu. My patient wife teases me that my ‘adventurous palate’ has shrunk to include about 5-6 regular dinners and maybe three lunches in constant rotation.
She’s not wrong.
But you know what? I’m perfectly happy in my little culinary loop. I don’t see the need to continuously discover new recipes, try exotic ingredients, or explore new takeout options. There’s something wonderfully reassuring about digging into a bowl of my perfected 卤肉饭 (Braised Pork & Rice), 土豆牛肉盖饭 (Potato and Beef Gaifan), 干拌碗杂面 (Dry Mixed Noodles) or a 小煎鸡 (Fried Chicken Dish) – or picking up my standard order of mixed fried rice and 蒸蛋 (Steamed Egg): no surprises, no disappointments – just pure dining satisfaction.
My innate craving for security and stability cements my creature-of-habit nature. Once I discover something I enjoy, I stubbornly refuse to seek alternatives. Whether it’s a deep-seated drive for routine or simply single-mindedness, I like what I like – and see little reason to look beyond my tried and true.
There are so many choices in our modern world (including food delivery apps) that it’s comforting not to have to decide and instead have a set routine in at least one area of life – like meals. Some may call it boring or unadventurous, but I call it efficient and reassuring. With everything else fluctuating, having a few constants, I can rely on, like my standby dishes, is nice.
This ‘culinary loop’ is also highly practical. It saves time browsing recipes or takeout menus and reduces food waste since I know what to buy and how much of it. There’s no tricky recipe to follow or new techniques to mess up. Preparation is a breeze whether cooking at home or placing an order. And, of course, I know each dish will satisfy me and bring me joy. Like an old friend, my 盖饭 (Gaifan) is there for me whenever I need it – and it always delivers.
My wife has a more adventurous palate and sporadically gets an itch to try new recipes. She thinks it keeps life interesting and exposes us to new flavors and cuisines. I don’t mind being her sous-chef or taste tester on those occasions, but left to my own devices, I’ll stick to my trusty loop.
We’ve understood that we don’t need to be in the same culinary mood at once and take turns choosing meals or going out to eat. This balance works well for us, with the comfort of the familiar interspersed by the discovery of the new.
Call me boring or unadventurous, if you will. But in these busy and unpredictable times, there’s solace in our little routines, including eating what makes us happy. My culinary loop may be limited, but the joy of each cozy meal inside it is more real and satisfying. So you can keep your exotic ingredients and far-flung recipes – I’ll curl up with my old faithful.