Eating out is awesome. You basically show up at a restaurant where if you have picked a good venue and were lucky as a kid, it is like being taken care of by your mother. A kind person will probably show you to your seat, take your coat for you, clean up after you and offer you an array of awesome grub.*
*Grub is this instance is slang for food, not earth-dwelling, legless creatures Indigenous Australian's are known to eat.
image source: natgeocreative.com/
But perhaps the best part of eating out is getting to try other’s creations. And I am not talking about you and your friend making one another's “build your own burger” at McDonalds where you prank each other with copious quantities of chilli. If you live in even a slightly cosmopolitan town, there’s likely to be a choice in world cuisine available - Thai, Mexican, French through to some rarer treats including Ethiopian or Bolivian.
I am going to say it again, eating out is AWESOME.
However, it can quickly dwindle your savings and to be honest, there is a certain je ne sais quai you get with home cooking that you don’t with eating out. It does not seem to matter how many amazing cook books from those favourite restaurants we collect, most spend more time on the shelf at home than out in the kitchen being used. Instead we revert back to making a repertoire of a half dozen meals. And it gets boring. So we eat out more instead. It can be a vicious circle.
One of the most overwhelming reasons for this home cooking trauma is the reliance on having specific ingredients available that you cannot always find in your local supermarket. If you wanted to make authentic Mexican (rather than Cheese Whiz over Doritos), there are at least a half dozen types of chillies that you should have access to. Your local supermarket is likely to have, at best, two varieties, perhaps in green or red (and if you leave a green chilli long enough, it will probably turn red). The supermarket is unlikely to stock guanjillo, morita or ancho. So you either just substitute them with red birds eye chilli and miss the nuances of the dish, or just reach for the Doritos and Cheese Whiz.
Img 1: Mexican Ingredients
Img 2: Tex-Mex Ingredients
This is where local grocers help. They stock the specialist ingredients you need that turn the dish from “interesting” to “Ramsey’s got nothing on me”. You need to sought out these specialists. Sometimes they are on a back street you have never been down, other times they are that store you walk past every day and don’t blink twice at. Next time you pass one, drop in. And when Mother Hubbard is available, why not punch in some of the weird and wonderful ingredients that they have and see what comes back. Until then, why not pop into your local Korean restaurant for some bibimbap or Italian Delicatessen for some mortadella and get yourself inspired.