I cannot cook every day.
I do not cook every day.
I do not like to cook everyday.
But I am nothing short of admiration for the women who live their life in kitchens – cooking for their spouses, kids and everyone else. I have seen my beloved aunts slog their lives next to the stove. Their only priority was to get hot steaming food on the dining table. Their evening teatime would be spent chopping vegetables, their phone conversations would be about the meals made and recipes exchanged, their trips to super market would center on the menu for the week. They would also smell of the dish they had cooked. I admire their energy and their idea of loving through the ladle and stirring in the much-needed TLC in our lives. But it saddens me that they have no time to try out any other way of expressing their love.
The famous quotation, “that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”, is kind of indigestible to me. These women toil endlessly in the kitchen to put forth this perfectly delectable meal for their loved ones. Only to be met by their spouse who does not think much about it, who cannot compliment, who cannot take time out to appreciate the hard work, as this is their way of everyday life. The kids do not think much and gulp down the food – which in most cases is not as palatable as the junk food would be.
I always cringed at the kind of example they would be for their kids. The young girls would take it as a done way of life. The boys think that that’s the way a woman should be. This makes me feel sorry for them but angry as well for letting others entertain these thoughts.
More often than not, these lovely women do this because they have no other choice. Tradition demands women to stay at home while the man provides for the family.
Put those same women on your office desk and she can put most of blue-collared employees to shame. I would say that her skills in planning, organisation, inventory management, procurement, resource management, marketing, execution, monitoring and control, process improvements and quality, are something we all could learn from. Heck if you thought that they teach this kind of stuff only in PMP and premier business schools.
Real education beings at home.
Next time you jot down a good recipie from the queen of the kitchen, just be aware of the wisdom and tempering that went into it. It is coming down from a very wise soul who has seen more life, more food, more fuss, and probably more pain than you. These are the real women of steel, who in their own ways mastered the art of life, and find their little moments of peace in their kitchens.
The Martha Stewarts, Nigellas, and Gordon Ramseys may have fired up our culinary imagination but we have been learning unconsciously all this while – watching our loved ones sweat it out.
I remember how effortlessly my grandmother cooked for 15 people over a charcoal stove, huffing and puffing endlessly, showing no signs of fatigue. She loved to cook. She loved to serve. She loved to feed. She loved to love in her own way. Those awesome caring genes somehow must have made way through the next generation as my mother and my aunts are remarkable cooks in their own ways. While one reigns over the taste buds, the other offers a-la-carte spread in less than half hour. They ensure that no one leaves the house on an empty stomach.
I am not an extreme feminist but most of the best cooks that I have seen are the old ladies. I consider them the real kitchen queens. Nothing can dispute their authority over the spice box, the kadai and the ladles. This is with no disrespect to the quinssential male chefs who offer equally delicious food. But hey, something is always missing in that. Love? Or a woman’s touch?
I also think that cooking helps us cope with the daily stress of living in this mad world. There have been a lot of studies and suggestions that cooking can be an enjoyable experience. I have experienced it myself.
I am not a daily three-square-meals-a-day cook. I cook when I like. I love to cook when I really want to cook. Sometimes for my loved ones and sometimes for myself. Be it our daal-chaawal daily bread or an exotic feast, I have loved the experience.
Julienne carrots or cubing cottage cheese, I love to do it all. It’s calming, it is humbling, its peaceful, and feels like butterflies. I never quite figured out the big fuss about wanting to cut vegetables. As I write this, I realise that I would love to do that myself. Maybe because it feels good. Because I love the feel of the vegetable. Because I like the labour – the toil. Because I see the fruit of labour right in front of my eyes. Because the effect is so calming, so peaceful, so close to meditation. Now I know why. Now I know why everyone lends a hand to cut vegetables.
I guess that’s why my mother still likes to cut the vegetables even though I think it is too much of hard work and I try to take over. Hang on! I guess we both are vying for the most enjoyable task. I guess, I will let my mom have that little piece of joy.
This can go on and on… will update it some other day…