Do you love cooking? Or, are you a non-foodie in a food centric world? Yes? Then, like me, you would avoid the Annual Food Festival in Ubud. But, this year, it caught me unaware.

Out for a walk, I found myself in a snarl of pedestrian traffic. I had little choice but to join the crowd. I was Alice tumbling down a rabbit hole headfirst into foodie wonderland.

Dizzy and disoriented, I came to my senses in a cloud of fragrant smoke. Satays of goat, chicken, beef, and fish hissed in steamy deliciousness on red-hot braziers. Saliva sprang from my mouth at the sight of mounds of sweet cakes from Bali Buda Bakery. Alchemy served up raw food salads on eco-friendly palm leaf plates. I circled the booths in overwhelm, studying the options, taking it all in.

Are Your Taste Buds Hard-Wired to Know What They Want?

Mine get confused. I like the theory of choice, but, deep down, I’m happiest when someone puts a full plate in front of me and says, “Eat!” That wasn’t going to happen so I entered default mode.

When in doubt, get salad! A chef with perfect teeth grinned and threw two fried pita rounds on my lunch of beetroot and fresh mozzarella. “Bonus!” he said, and winked.

Food Is Fun! Right?

Then why do I care so little? It wasn’t always this way. In my teens, recipes were an obsession. I had shoe boxes full of them.

The year I turned 16 I took a summer job at my grandma’s company in Minneapolis and stayed with her. She let me make dinner every night.

By the time we came home from work in the afternoon her apartment was a sweatbox. With temperatures nudging 100 degrees, I fired up the oven for baked potatoes. Grandma, shedding her bra, girdle, garters, and hose, donned a duster and passed out on the couch in front of the fan.

For Me a Recipe Was a Suggestion Rather Than a Formula For Success

Whether I was creative or rebellious is unclear. I didn’t work from a plan; I worked from the contents of the fridge. If I needed something I didn’t have I substituted. Sometimes I substituted anyway just for the heck of it.

But the night I burned out grandma’s mixer, while trying to make whipped cream out of skim milk, she intervened. She was kind but firm. My kitchen privileges disappeared.

So Did My Desire to Cook

My daughters tell me that we lived on boxed mac ’n’ cheese and Campbell’s Soup for their entire childhood. They may be right.

I worked full-time, was in college full-time and I still attempted to manage my domestic roles. Food was not a priority and cooking had to take under 15-minutes or it wasn’t happening.

I thought the leisure of retirement might re-ignite my early passion. In Bali, I’m surrounded by the most exotic cuisine in the world. Cooking classes from Suckling Pig to Crispy Duck abound. It’s a foodie’s dream. I tried. I really did.

I took a class. I was ferried out to a farm on the back of Dayu’s motorbike. We picked vegetables from the organic garden, grated, peeled, sliced and diced, to create a monster salad. Under her guidance I made green juice, pumpkin soup, tempe mango curry and seaweed pudding. It took the entire day.

Did I Love It?

There were elements of pleasure. But did I come home with a burning desire to cook? No.

The experience cemented the fact that cooking, for me, is a monumental waste of time. There are 200 billion things I’d rather do and half of them yield better results than my attempts to create edible food.

In spite of that, I’ll attend the 2017 Food Festival. I’m in awe of those who have mastered their craft and what I saw coming out of those makeshift kitchens was pure art. I’m still kicking myself that I didn’t try the smoky goat. Next year!

Are you a foodie? If so, have you ever thought about what made you that way? Do you like to cook? If you don’t, do you ever feel embarrassed about it? Do you find your interests or hobbies changed as kids left home or you approached retirement? Please join the conversation.

Sherry BronsonSherry Bronson is a writer and traveler. As retirement approached she knew she wanted a simpler life, one that resonated with her. In her own words she says: “I always felt like a violin in a brass band, too polite, too sensitive, an introvert in an extrovert’s world. In beautiful Bali I found my tribe. Here I fit, unapologetically in a culture that esteems those traits that didn’t fit in the mad scramble for success in the West.” On her blog, Sherry reminds her readers that life must be lived and encourages them not to waste time. Know your dreams and don’t let fears, your own or anyone else’s, keep you from following them. Please visit Sherry on her website and follow her on Twitter.

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