Here is a photologue of my attempt at Sweet and Sour Pork. I don’t like the idea of deep frying, as it’s not only super greasy, makes the air stink of stale sizzle, and leaves a thin film of tackiness all over, but it is also a waste of oil, especially since I am cooking for just one. So, instead of deep frying, I pan fried the pork cubes, which were first marinaded in soy sauce, then coated with beaten egg and tossed in corn flour. I added the gravy and pineapple chunks when the cubes were cooked and after draining away excess oil. I was quite pleased with the result, though it isn’t something I will repeat too often, as it involved a bit more preparation than usual.
For many autistic detail-focused minds, the process is itself the goal, wherein we find immense satisfaction. Life can be a fascinating learning journey, ending only when our own life force dissolves into nothingness. However, when we are prevented from pursuing our passions, the burning interests that fire our imaginations, then our journey becomes arduous, frustrating and even excruciating.
“Relaxation” thus takes on a very different meaning and complexion in our dimension. Engaging in process – the practice of creativity, plunging into the realm of intense and frenetic engagement with and engulfed by whatever captures our driving passion – is our way of generating pleasure. In this milieu, we find equilibrium, calm and inner tranquility, while at the same time deriving vigour and energy, as we spend it.
Cooking is more than feeding myself. The challenge I have faced in the last two and a half years, as a Ph.D-scholar-on-a-budget, has been feeding myself and Lucy on a small stipend, or what’s left of it after paying the monthly rent. The process, however, remains the same, just as riveting and pleasurable as ever before. An added dimension to my cooking these days is to share. I try to do this as much as I am able, sharing my food with those who matter in one way or another to me, and sharing with a friend or two who may be in need. When we lived in our old neighbourhood, we had a routine of morning chats with our homeless friends. When I baked bread, I would bring a small portion to share with our friend at the park. I miss our old neighbourhood. We no longer see our friends, and I often wonder what has become of them.
My work is also a pleasurable activity, almost exhilarating even, and I find peace and a sense of tranquility when I am working. I am grateful and count myself incredibly lucky, to be given this opportunity to work in an area of interest that so completely consumes me. I do believe that if every autistic person is supported and given the means to develop and pursue our passions, we each shall have great potential to contribute positively to the world at large.