`Boys as young as six are signing up for cooking classes to pick up an essential life skill` said an article appearing in Times of India a couple of days ago. The same article also quoted a study in USA in 2013, according to which `Men spending time cooking has doubled as against women spending half the time`
I was happy to learn about this because I strongly believe that everyone, especially men who believe that cooking is a girly activity, must know some basics in cooking- so that they can whip up a simple meal in case of an emergency due to illness or absence of their spouses from home for any reason.
It might be a good idea for men to give some relief to their better halves at least once a week, when she is spared the tension associated with cooking three meals a day, every day, 365 days of the year! I was a Sunday cook at home when my wife was alive and after she passed away three years ago, my cooking skill helps me in looking after myself. Besides depending on outside food regularly is not only expensive but also is a health hazard.
I took my baby steps in cooking when I was only 8. Once my father was away on office work. My mother could not enter the kitchen because she was `impure`. Since we could not afford to buy food from a restaurant , she taught me how to cook a simple meal. Standing at a distance she instructed me how to light up a coal fired `aduppu` ( Sigdi), make rice and dhal, and a rasam. With some roasted `appalams` to accompany, a three course meal was ready for the family. The appreciation I received for my maiden effort hooked me to the art of cooking at a very young age. Over the years I learnt to cook simple South Indian vegetarian meals, comprising a variety of Rasams, Porials ( dry vegetable curries), Sambhar or Vattha kuzhambu or More Kuzhambu ( kadis). I am confident of cooking for 15 to 20 people.
Unlike modern day girls, who are more than happy to surrender the kitchen to their better halves, my wife, who belonged to the old school, always used to resist my entering the kitchen because according to her I always messed up the kitchen. So, I had to constantly fight for my right to enter the kitchen.
Since I now have a whole kitchen to myself, without anyone breathing down my neck I have even started experimenting with new recipes. The urge to experiment was there right from the early days. I remember being featured in Femina magazine in June,1984 with` Stuffed idlies` for which I had sent the recipe to the magazine. I was thrilled to find that my photo, holding a plate of idlies I had cooked appearing along side the mug shot of Kushwant Singh, the well known author who had also sent a recipe.
Cooking is a creative hobby and a great stress buster. Like every other soft skill that is being taught, cooking is an essential life skill which every child- boy or a girl- must learn. I look forward to the day when Basic cooking is taught in schools as a compulsory subject to be learnt through special classes over the weekend or holidays. In today`s world where both the husband and wife are working and lead a very stressful life, knowledge of cooking by both helps in sharing an essential responsibility.
(This article has appeared in Adyar Times issue dt 17-23rd July,2016)