Food with friends

By Miriam Chacko
[email protected]

ONE AFTERNOON in January, three friends met for lunch. What started off as casual banter converged into a weighted discussion on health and the need for a collective dietary overhaul.

2013 had just ended and they felt it was as good a time as any to ideate a resolution. It was clear to them that eating often at restaurants was unnecessary and a no-no for good health. So, they formulated a plan that involved eating home cooked dinners and seven more friends. Falling under their friend radar, my husband and I were invited to join the movement.

Soon, there were ten friends with a plan. Bitten by the New Year bug and realising our personal need to change the way we eat, all of us got on board. The ten eventually formed five pairs and then each pair decided on a day of the week to cook for the group.

The first email sent out to articulate the intention of the movement listed out some rules:
1. All of us need to purchase and use low sodium salt. No table salt, that’s for sure.
2. Coconut oil or rice bran oil or any oil that can withstand high temperature.
3. If serving rice, only brown rice and basmati rice allowed.
4. One meat dish and 3 veggies or 2 veggies, if serving soup.
5. Type of meat: Chicken and fish.
6. Dinner will start at 7.30. Please try to be punctual. Eating late is fattening….
7. Cleaning routine: whoever is cooking next day, will wash the dishes that night.
8. Bailing more than 3 times (consecutively) without good reason is punishable. He or she will have to buy wine for the group 🙂

So far, I have not had trouble adhering to the rules as there is enough room to attempt different cuisines and cooking styles.

In a week we eat a range of food including roast chicken, grilled fish, curry, soup and salad.

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Like any behavior exercised for more than 30 days, cooking for a family of friends eventually becomes routine. Somehow, in writing about this initiative, I am not able to capture the fun involved. Let’s just say good food leads to good conversations. My husband and I cook for the group on Mondays and we enjoy hosting just as much as eating at someone else’s.

We look forward to dinner with friends, experimenting with new recipes and sharing our experiences of shopping at the wet market.

My only complaint would be that we should have started this sooner.


Miriam Chacko is essentially an environmentalist. After completing her postgraduate degree in Environment and International Development from the University of East Anglia, she got involved in projects promoting environmental awareness. Drawing on her experience, she has written articles on climate change and conservation.

A keen traveller, she has visited many countries in and around Asia and her love of the outdoors and interest in different cultures comes through in her writing.

Miriam has been writing for The Borneo Post SEEDS since 2013.

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