I have been a late bloomer when it comes to cooking. Born in a relatively liberal home to fairly broad-minded parents, I was shielded from various gender stereotypes at home. Being the eldest among the siblings also helped largely.
So, I never entered the kitchen thanks to my Mum who chased me every time I was curious to know when was cooking. She felt that since eventually someday I would have to shoulder domestic responsibilities after marriage, there was no need for me to enter the kitchen and start so early. In fact, even after marriage, cooking exclusively for the family never cropped up because we lived in a joint family setup with a hands-on maid. Yes, I took some baby steps into the kitchen after marriage but cooking was still at the nascent stage for me.
It was only after moving to the US when I really took on the mantle of the kitchen and the home. It was the need of the hour. I was very nervous before going there. But, my mother reassured me that cooking was no rocket science and one learns eventually from their mistakes. She told me that´s how she learnt. When you fail once, the next time you learn not to make the same mistake while trying again. True to her words, that´s how even I learnt to cook. By trial and error, by watching YouTube recipe videos, by calling up my Mum and Mum-in-law, by going to friends´ homes and learning first-hand from them, by watching TV cookery shows and more. What I learnt was that anything can be learnt from the scratch at any point of time in our lives if we only have the will to do so.
But, what I learnt more importantly was how closely our health was tied to our kitchen. When I went to the US, I was a mother of an 18 month old toddler. By that time, I knew how important nutrition was for the growth and development of a child. Shopping locally at farmer´s markets helped me not just admire and appreciate Nature´s bounty but also work around them to sustain ourselves. In those six years, I have cooked extensively trying out new foods and cuisines. I always wondered when you have such well-furnished kitchens in America, why was the need for so many ´take-outs´ in the first place? And here in India, people cooked regularly in less than fancy kitchens and homes in such variety and range. Anywhere, that´s for another ´food for thought´ discussion for another day!
We moved back to India after six years and the love for cooking has stayed on. Living in India has its own advantages – the sunshine weather, daily and weekly farmer´s markets, easy access to abundant fresh produce in fruits, vegetables, diary, poultry etc, rich family traditions when it comes to nutrition and health.
I do wish to make healthier choices and cook more healthy food of late. You know, ´Health bhi and taste bhi´! Interestingly, one of my goals this year is to digitize this experience. Have a blog to track the progress of my family´s health and wellbeing. The blog will not just focus on food alone but all aspects of going natural in our lifestyle. The aim is to find natural treatments in the kitchen. Research, scout, shop fresh ingredients locally at best and stock them in the kitchen. It could be food, beauty or medicine. Of course, food will be an integral part of the blog but there will be other aspects of life tied up to the kitchen.
This notion of seeing the kitchen as a holy abode for our physical and mental well-being piques my interest and makes me want to explore the myriad possibilities. The main idea is to live life wisely and minimalistically to truly experience abundance and richness.
Some concluding tips before signing off –
- Buy local as near as you can – fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables
- Buy fresh meat and not frozen
- Try a new fruit or vegetable
- Learn and try new recipes. Try different styles of cooking – baking, steaming, poaching etc. Create new family favourites
- Invest in good-looking and functional culinary ware and kitchen tools.
- Explore local produce beyond food and menu offerings. Delve into the territory of science, beauty and medicine.