I am the Blind Cook.
I love to eat.
Who doesn’t? But I have a real obsession with food. Some call us foodaphiles, chowhounds, foodies. I don’t know which is the proper term; all I know is I enjoy good food. And good food doesn’t necessarily equate with holes burned in the wallet–after all, McDonald’s isn’t one of the most recognized icons in the world for no reason.
I love to cook.
No respectable food obsession would go without a love for cooking. My mother was a wonderful cook but I didn’t grow up in the kitchen tiptoeing over the stove, watching her simmer and taste the broth. Instead, I was one of those who went off to college armed with only the knowledge of how to fry an egg and boil instant ramen. I didn’t even know how to steam rice in an automatic rice cooker. But once I moved from the dorm with its plentiful cafeteria into an apartment with an empty fridge, I had to learn something beyond my current repertoire at the time. (There were only so many combinations of eggs and ramen one could handle.) I botched tons of meals back in those days, but every once in awhile, something edible (and maybe even slightly enjoyable) would come of the attempts in the kitchen, and when I saw the dull looks of food coma on my friends’ faces, I realized I also love to cook for others.
I love to write.
Hence the existence of this blog, my little portal in cyberspace. I am currently a Master of Fine Arts candidate in fiction/creative nonfiction at the Creative Writing Program at University of Houston, one of the top programs of its kind in the nation. While literary writing requires me to often mull over characters and scenes, even scrutinize words one at a time, this blog is a place where I can write whatever comes to mind, a free-writing exercise of sorts. And food is something with which I’ll never run into writer’s block.
I am blind.
In 2003, I was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease called Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO). It is similar to the more widely researched Multiple Sclerosis in that the overactive immune system causes nerve impulses to misfire, often resulting in vision loss and paralysis. While MS tends to affect the brain, however, NMO mainly interrupts the optic nerves and spinal cord. The course of NMO is also more progressive than that of MS; full recoveries from acute attacks are less likely. After several bouts of optic neuritis, the network of nerves connecting my eyes to my brain atrophied, and my vision deteriorated to what the doctors call “counting fingers.” What I see can best be described as shadows and extreme blurriness like I’m eternally walking through a cloud. Or imagine staring into a mirror foggy with steam right after a hot shower–that’s my world.
So what do these four things determine about me and my blog? I write what I eat. I write what I cook. And I write what I taste and feel throughout these experiences, not only with food but with life in general as a sight-impaired individual. Food and words are my two loves–the culinary and literary arts are both means through which I connect with others. I hope you enjoy the blog and find it, at the very least, interesting and entertaining. I invite you, too, to feel your way through food and taste your way through life.
You can find my writer persona at www.christineha.com, complete with my [very minute] list of publications. And follow me at @ChristineHHa on Twitter.
Last but not least, for more information about Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO), visit NMO Diaries, a blog entirely dedicated to NMO and its effects on the lives of three ambitious women (yes, I would be one of them). Another great resource for NMO is the Guthy Jackson Charitable Foundation which funds research to find answers for the prevention of and potential cure for NMO.