Monthly Archives: June 2018

Inhibitions

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A real happy place.

In naked arms of the nature,

I climbed the mountains.

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They call it Old Fashioned.

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My love for cooking has not diminished a bit over years, as I continue to explore my palate and attempt to please other’s, I go through various experiences which has made me learn a lot about myself, much beyond food.

My wife made an interesting observation. according to her, I have an ‘old fashioned approach’ to cooking. At first I did not give much thought to the comment, as my wife considers a lot more of me to be old fashioned. I assume she means that in a ‘not so good way’ and I see it to be in a ‘very good way’. However, true to my usual way, a long after the comment, and days after the observation from my wife, I truly saw what she meant when she said ‘old fashioned way of cooking’.

When you watch any show on cooking, one common sight is that of the chef tasting the food many times throughout the cooking, and for sure towards the end of it. Having grown up seeing my mother and grand mother cook, at no point I have felt a need to taste the food/dish I am making, until I actually serve myself, along with rest of the people. The idea of having to taste the food to be able to check what is missing, less or  excess is completely alien to our way of cooking. This practise of not tasting, though rooted in religious beliefs, has become more of a challenge to one’s culinary skills. On television, when the chef dips his spoon into the pan, and brings it this mouth and takes a swipe at it, one can almost see my eyes cringe. Well, tasting is definitely not to my taste.

Being a software coolie, we have been taught the benefits of quantifiability over and over. Anything we do should be measurable, and we don’t do anything if they don’t measure it. When it comes to cooking, the idea of a measure has been very common, however the emphasis on the measure, and the equipment to do the same, have reached great heights in recent past. There are thermometers to measure the temperature, there are measuring spoons to measure your pinch, there are measuring jars for the liquids, and there is no end in sight. In my way of cooking, largely handed over from my grand mother, there is just one equipment ‘eye’. I love the phrase in my grand mother’s recipes ‘kannalathe [measure by eye]’. It baffles me, having learnt the modern of dealing with things, which guarantee assured results, how can one [read me] believe in the outcome of something as untrustworthy as one’s own eyes. [irony, intended.]. I measure the amount by my fist-fullness and more finer amounts by how much my thumb and the fore fingers can feel. The color and aroma are the two other big give aways as they clearly indicate what and how much should go in.

A close friend of mine used the word ‘plating’, something which I was not familiar with. On looking it up, I realised how nice plating makes the food look, and how much it can enhance the appeal of the food. To be honest, I am drawn to the nicely plated food at restaurants, and I occasionally ignore the lack of quantity which gets nicely hidden with brilliant plating tricks. However when it comes to my cooking, I choose quantity over plating, and convenience our cutlery. I can still serve and present them nicely, and also throw in couple of resourceful cutlery to play with, however this aspect of food gets a very limited attention from me. May be “what” is old fashioned to today’s “how”.

 

What have we done?

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Newspapers are full of this, and yet no one seems to mind. There are a bunch of people celebrating, and another bunch lamenting this, however who I am worried about, are those in between. No I am not talking about Karnataka elections, and no I am not talking about RCB losing yet another year, I am not talking about the united front trying to fight the might of Mr Modi, nor the noisy unruly media trying to be senseless about all sensitive issues. I am talking about numerous board exams, and innumerable toppers shining in those exams.

I look at my 5 year old son, and I am worried. I hate the fact that we have bought him into an environment which reminds me of the novel Hunger Games. He is going to be one of the tributes in this dangerous game, and unfortunately this does not have just 2 from each district like the novel, but thousands of young kids cutting each other’s throat in an attempt to win a lottery called survival. He got the taste of it already, as he had to compete with age, religion, caste, money and lineage to make his first score, ‘admission’ into pre-kg. There used to be a time, when money was the biggest evil, the one holding the bight future away from many of the bright kids, and it was thought of, as the most evil thing that mankind has seen. Man, where we wrong.

I remember my father telling me, how an average student he was, and in his own sweet words trying to explain how being average is no longer enough. This was in the early 90s. I did not realise how difficult it would have been for him to expect and request his son to score a seat in the reputed college to make sure I make a decent living in the future. I did not see a big fuss in that, all my father was asking of me, was to make sure I score good enough to get a seat, my aim was much higher, I didnt care about scoring high, I wanted to score high enough to be able to go top school, the school closest to my house so that we don’t need to spend more on my living expenses. How outdated my struggle sounds.

What do I tell my son now?, let alone 10 years later when he is truly going to come to face the first big battle. Above average is going to make you a failure?, 95s are not enough?, your budget in terms of losing is 1 to 3 marks in the grand total and then hoping that all his competition slips a bit and looses 5-6 marks?. Getting marks is just a thing which he can control,  however he should also hope that his dad keeps his job and makes enough money to be able to pay for his college without having to sell his kidney?.

I have never been afraid of competition, infact it has always made me fight harder. The taste of every small win, has egged me on to make a bigger sash in trying to carve a bigger chunk of my share of the cheese. I really want our future generation to be able to breathe, and not really gasp all the time. I want my son to play his way through education, and not really run a marathon through this stampede. I would like him to believe that he is in a race, where he can win with pleasure, if and when he plays straight. I don’t want him to start seeing how this is a race where no one wins, and every one is here to lose.

I hope we abolish this hunger games. We don’t need our children to be tributes, no not in our capitol.