I was one of those girls who never bothered to venture into the kitchen not because she was never interested in cooking but mainly because my mom used to scare me with dialogues like ‘Don’t touch anything. The vessels are hot!’ or a ‘Get out of my kitchen. You’re slowing things down!’ or even worse ‘Eeee! Don’t use the knife like that! You will cut your fingers!!!!!’. Yes, here is a girl who was very VERY pampered.
I wouldn’t really blame my mom for freaking out whenever I enter the kitchen. After all, it was yours truly along with her lab partner who created a mini bomb in midst of mixing and matching chemicals during her school chemistry lab days. Cooking is sort of like a chem lab experiment, you got to agree; you either screw up things completely or you get it just right. The chemical solution that I made then was supposed to turn a bloody red color but instead turned into a light grey which then broke the test tube after bursting out with a mild fizz. I remember a student next to us remarking ‘You guys should never enter a kitchen’.
How long can a girl continue to be like that? I had to learn cooking for the better half, if not for me. I mean, I can literally survive on take out (read junk food) without ever getting tired of it but the husband (like any other guy living abroad) prefers home cooked naadan food. I had no choice really! Highly enthusiastic about finally getting a chance to experiment in this restricted (or even sometimes avoided ;)) area of the house called 'the kitchen', I searched for simple recipes to try out on the net.
Me – “Amma, this recipe requires tomatoes”
Mom – “Tomatoes finished. I used them up yesterday.”
Me – “Ok, I will try this recipe then. Will use potatoes.”
Mom (giving me a smug look) – “No potatoes either. I made potato upperi today remember?”
I don’t know if she finished off all the veggies in the house on purpose so that I won’t enter the kitchen. But then I kept bugging her to teach me something, and she had no choice. She knew I couldn’t be kept away from a kitchen for long and shared all her naadan (kerala) recipes with me. I browse the net and try out some new recipes too nowadays. Some are a success whereas some others don’t turn out so good. I am still in the process of learning, and I guess cooking is something which you can never completely learn. There’s always something new to try out or some new info to be absorbed!
I have spent so much time eating up my mom’s delicacies that even if I end up some place other than home and start missing her food, I can always feel better by thinking that I have eaten maa ka khaana more than the average female who has learnt cooking early. You see, moms usually dump all their work on their daughters once they come to know everything -- like how it is in my case nowadays (ahem!).
'Dhanya's theory of Early Cooking' states that 'The Early Learner Makes Her Mother Lazy Faster by Taking Over The Kitchen In A Shorter Span of Time As Opposed To The Late Learner' (applicable if and only if you are a girl). To explain this theory in detail -
Cooking at an early age -> you helping mom more in kitchen as you get more experienced -> Slowly, mom starts avoiding kitchen complaining of body pain (mostly) or other such excuses -> You taking over the kitchen and hence eating more of YOUR food -> Altering mom's recipes -> Mom's priceless recipes getting lost/forgotten.
So if you're at home and your mom is all healthy and well, let her do the cooking I tell you! Pretend like as if you dunno anything or pretend you have a backache or a headache all the time (like my sister.. kidding! :D). Remember, you're doing this only to help your mom not to lose her magic touch. Plus, you get to taste more of amma's original recipes and not your kachda altered ones.
If you are in your teens or early 20s and worried about not knowing anything in cooking, let me assure you that it’s no big deal! You can always learn it later. Right now, just enjoy life – and yes, your mom’s cooking while you still can!