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Cooking Is Not A Symbol Of Domestication But An Art And Necessity [modified From Vidya Balans State

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by sln, Apr 26, 2020.

  1. sln

    sln Platinum IL'ite

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    Cooking is not a symbol of domestication but an art and necessity

    [Modified from Vidya Balans statement in TOI]

    Five out of ten being girls in our house I had no chance to enter the kitchen even to get a glass of water. When I got married Mythili came with two trunk boxes and three volumes of cookery books by Meenakshi ammal.She had been brought up under stringent orthodox conditions.My mother started teaching her our house style of cooking and also how to keep the jewellery hidden in mustard,jeeragam dabbas.It was an independent house and almyrahs were not considered safe by my mother.Having understood Mythili’s orthodox background I had the forethought to fix our house next to Saraswathi mamis house-a genial lady who became a friend philosopher and guide to us. For some time it was blind leading the blind and we could not get a hang of palam,azhaku etc. weighing scale referred by Meenakshi Ammal. However both of us enjoyed the thrill of excess salt,tamarind and chilli powder in the food joking and laughing all the time.That is what marriage does to you.

    We were in Hyderabad and my two daughters were eight and six.Suddenly Mythili had to rush to Chennai to spend a few days with her mother who was unwell. I reassured her that I would take care of the cooking.My menu was carrot sambar and bhendi poriyal. I lighted the gas stove and found that the gas cylinder was empty.After searching[women keep things hidden in such a way that the house cannot function in their absence] I located the kerosene stove and lighted.To my horror I found that the eight wicks were almost non existent and my efforts to bring them out failed and my fingers were bruised

    I sought the assistance of Mouli my neighbour.Thanks to the strict monthly three day quarantine business observed in his house he had become an expert cook.He was a nuclear scientist and there was logic in every thing he did.He fixed up the new set of wick and I assured him that I would finish the cooking in a jiffy much to his disbelief.Tired by that time,I put Dal,carrot,tamarind essence and sambar powder together to boil for making sambar.Even after forty minutes carrot and Dal had not cooked and the masala had not blended properly.I washed the bhendi pieces thoroughly to remove dirt and when I tried to make poriyal I found that the bhendi had aged and lost its shape .I served the children, who commented nice but refused to have another helping.When I ate, I understood that my attempt was a disaster.Mouli had foreseen this outcome and took care of us for the next two days.On the third day we faithfully received Mythili at the station and there was hushed whisper among the trio followed by a sympathetic look at me.

    At Poona,Mythili and children left for Chennai for Christmas holidays.I could not join them.I took down receipes from Mythili for selected items. I had Meenakshi Ammals book as back up.Good girl Mythili had made vatha kozhambu ,coconut chutney,fresh lemon pickles etc to tide over.My only weakness was the fear of the pressure cooker flying off.I t had happened in my friends house and the boy[now 60] carries the scar even now.I used to keep the main door open to run out incase of emergency ,tie a towel around my head to prevent head injury and don’t move till I put off the stove after four whistles.With enough finished goods left by Mythili I had to cook only rice.

    My boss[tamilian] came from Goa and I jumped up at the unexpected opportunity to cook.The menu was Morkuzhambu[kadi],Aloo kara kari,Rasam and tomato pachadi. I referred to Mythilis receipe again and again and also Meenakshi ammal to be on the safe side.To make it taste better I added 25% extra to whatever was given in the receipe.The finished product looked like this.Oil was floating in the morkuzhambu,aloo curry had conjunctivitis,rasam was a little better than water[forgot to add pepper jeera powder] .My boss ,a frugal eater complained of stomach upset and ate very little but however complimented me on my culinary skills. But I knew that nothing was alright.After reaching Goa,he had informed colleagues not to visit Poona during Christmas holidays as LAXMI[my name]was like a released tiger chasing a prey.Thank God that it did not form a part of my appraisal.

    Just after retirement I decided that I should learn proper cooking as a matter of caution. I firmly believe that when two people are by themselves both should know cooking.Nobody has the time or patience to come and cook for you if you are unwell.I surrounded myself with “Dakshin”by Chandra and Iyengar samaiyal by Sujatha.Under the watchful tutelage of Mythili I trained myself to be a good cook.This skill was extremely helpful when Mythili was racing towards her final journey.

    Today I can take care of myself even for a week though I refer to the receipes every time.If I am not considered immodest I give myself a rating of 7/10. My guides are Yogambal Sunder,Hebbar kitchen and Jeyashri’s kitchen ,courtesy youtube. The reasons for the confidence to give myself a high rating are two fold. One-I enjoy my preparation and two- that none of you may come home for conducting practicals .
     
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  2. Thyagarajan

    Thyagarajan IL Hall of Fame

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    :hello:Greatest chefs of the world are men.
    Menfolk are not incapable of cooking. But men know too many cooks spoil the broth. So they present in kitchen as a கிரியா ஊக்கி.
    When just married, for few months spouse long for menfolk presence in kitchen. After some time, they find hubby’s presence as “friendly enemy”.
    That is because better half’s instructions carried out in wrong order.
    Either way learning or not, cooking ends up in hilarious ways.
    Once I prepared food for my fil who escorted my spouse and infant daughter.
    After preparing the lunch food ready that included to seminary payasam, I picked up them from Dadar station and reached home in Sion. Banana leaf on set table . My fil finish bath and ready seated awaiting serving on the leaf.
    I opened the cooker and found warm raw rice uncooked because - yes you guessed it right- I forgot to add water into the rice vessel!
    Thanks for your hilarious take consequences of men’s learning to cook.
    Regards.
     
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  3. sln

    sln Platinum IL'ite

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    Dear Thyagarajan,
    women proudly tell their friends"my man cant even make tea"killing whatever interest men have for cooking. I have learnt cooking with bruises and scars.When Mythili was unwell we tried cooks but aborted. the trial due to hygiene,undependability and high cost not commensurate with the skill.The biggest compliment for my cooking was when Mythili refused the snacks made by the cook and asked for kuzhi paniyaram to be made by me.When two seniors are living by themselves it is imperative that both should cook and the man must be trained by the wife.When you are old obviously your brothers and sisters are old and they are not in a position to help.Children are away on employment.As old people your requirement is also simple.
    It is a different ball game altogether when women do the cooking 24/7 for 365 days.Modi should have included house wives in the clapping campaign initiated for the corona warriers.
    Regards.SLN
     
  4. Thyagarajan

    Thyagarajan IL Hall of Fame

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    :hello: Dear @sln Sir
    I agree with your points.
    2. In my previous response at #2 the “payasam” is to be prefixed with semiya not seminal.
    3. Incidentally, my anecdote* link quoted below describes the making of lunch and other preparations to welcome my infant daughter and spouse with my FIL that won me the second time award for that month.

    *Humour - Me, Spouse, Her Dad And Stress In Pressure Cooker

    Thanks & Regards.
     
  5. Mithila48

    Mithila48 New IL'ite

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    Cooking food is a celebration of joy. Sharing food brings us together and it is expression of love and care towards others by nourishing their satisfaction or craving of tasty and variety foods. Cooking different foods during festivals and inviting friends or relatives blends our bonds stronger and it shows how much we love each other by cooking different foods of their choice. Trying hand in cooking also relives our memories spent with our grand parents and relatives recollecting the process of making and that’s how the legacy of cooking is passed onto generations. The idea to hone a skill or technique from our mothers and pass onto younger generation makes us feel really good.
    Food is the Centre of attraction for any gatherings.
    Even if someone is uninvited and they drop suddenly, if they are served good food they shal remember for their lives.
    While one is cooking they should see that people whom they are serving should enjoy and this should expressed in the way the food is cooked... to let know others how much interest and care is being taken.
    In Andhra earlier days when someone went to see a girl while match-making the old generation used to test the culinary skills of the girls family by tasting the mango pickle. From the smell , texture and taste one would arrive at a conclusion that the family has good traditional values.
    In older generation homemakers who didn’t cook were looked down upon ... ideal women was supposed to know everything esp cooking.
    But now present generation swiggy is the latest choice for gatherings. Either food is ordered online or the parties are arranged in hotels or a potluck where everyone is brought a dish to share instead of one bearing the burden of entire cooking.
    Earlier women were home makers and most of the time was spent in kitchen taking care of cooking food for entire family. The burden was shared among women in household but now nuclear families being the growing trend cooking is not a priority when KFC and Macdonald’s are everywhere.
    In the present times my opinion is people irrespective of genders should learn to be self reliant not only in cooking but many things so that dependency can reduce esp in this trying times of corona. Can’t predict how future will turn out to be.
     
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  6. sln

    sln Platinum IL'ite

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    Thanks for the link.I throughly enjoyed the article.I think that the excitement of baby's arrival had something to do for not adding water to the washed rice.I assemble every thing required on the medai before lighting the stove so that I dont forget anything.
    Good and free flowing write up.
    Regards SLN
     
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  7. sln

    sln Platinum IL'ite

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  8. sln

    sln Platinum IL'ite

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    What a beautiful and comprehensive write up on cooking and how it gave pleasure to the person who cooked and the person who ate.Joint family fostered the habit of inviting people for a meal with us.There was no distraction of phone calls,whatsup etc.My sister at 76 ,once she enters the kitchen refuses to come out till the cooking is over.Cooking those days was an art and it was a matter of pride for a mother when the daughter or DIL cooked well .Like the pickle preparation, good rasam making was the litmus test in TN to judge the culinary skills of the girls.Cooking noodles and pasta is good enough to pass muster these days..The first prayer in the morning nowadays is for the maid to arrive.SLN
     
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  9. Thyagarajan

    Thyagarajan IL Hall of Fame

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    :hello:My SIL used to bring to party a huge pack of fried app Alam’s or and pappad.
    Kudos to you. An all embracing cookie-pedia visible in your response.
    Thanks and Regards.

    God Bless the cooks, chefs & gourmets.
     
  10. kaluputti

    kaluputti Gold IL'ite

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    Good post, I wish I could persuade my man to read this.(or cook)..:disappointed:. Like you said , I had not been " proudly telling my friends "my man cant even make tea" killing whatever interest men have for cooking."..because, he will be waiting for that to stop coming inside even to drink water. Rather what one great thing I did was that, I told (ordered??) him that he should (at least) make my afternoon tea , and for the past few years he had been doing it religiously...Now due to the lock down, we are seniors and not supposed to even open the door..., I decided to make my fav. masala tea for myself, no, he doesn't know how to make that...or drinks tea. Coming to men cooking, it IS certainly a life skill, just in case..! But a woman adds one extra ingredient in her cooking and that is her love for the family...doesn't she?
    "After some time, they find hubby’s presence as “friendly enemy”."
    No, after some time as is natural to him, starts dominating, imposing and interfering in the sacred process of cooking, that is why..:laughing:.
     
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