Before I stopped working full-time, I gave very little thought to my expenditure on food. My thoughts on food were centered on personal preferences and health impact e.g. calories and nutritional value. My favorite dining places include Din Tai Feng, Cedele, Sushi Tei and My Grandma’s Cuisine where I knew I could get a quick, yummy and fairly healthy meal. Whenever I felt like a treat, I would head to PS Cafe, Sun with Moon Japanese Dining and the likes. I did not consider my eating habits as being extravagant, at least not until today.
I was at ION Orchard running errands and it was lunch time. There were restaurants aplenty for me to choose and if it were in the past, I possibly would have opted for any one that caught my fancy for the moment. However, I was mindful that I was no longer working, and even though I could still maintain a fairly comfortable lifestyle, I should try and be more prudent with my expenses. Unwilling to pay for overpriced food at Food Opera, I decided not to have lunch at ION Orchard and instead headed back to J-Cube.
By the time I reached J-Cube, it was 3:30 pm. I was no longer hungry but I knew I needed to eat and I headed for the food court. After I sat down with a bowl of ban mian, I was tempted to eat just a bit of it since I was not that hungry. For some strange reason, I was reminded of an old man I met sometime back, who was eating leftovers at hawker centre. On the one hand was someone who had nothing to eat and who risk being infected with diseases by eating leftovers of strangers and on the other was me who had no qualms about wasting food. This really prompted me to reflect on my attitude towards food.
As I was eating my bowl of ban main, it dawned on me that for many, eating was a necessity, for survival rather than for enjoyment. For those with limited resources, making each meal last was was critical and considerations when deciding what to eat would thus include cost and quantity. When was a good time to eat became of utmost importance, to ensure that one did not need to spend more than the necessary by maximising each meal; and I definitely know how that felt like for it was not too long ago where my family was so poor that 4 of us, my mum and my siblings, shared one bowl of fish ball noodles.
It humbled me to realise how quickly I have forgotten those difficult days and how much I have taken for granted the creature comforts that I now enjoy. This brief episode and the resulting insights certainly make me more appreciative of each meal and stands as a lesson on cherishing.
After note: Before I leave you with the impression that I was eating at restaurants every day, that cannot be further from the truth. I eat at home as far as possible and when mum is not cooking, I would generally pick up dinner from the nearest coffee shop or hawker centre.