Jan 21, 2019

Why cooking is an essential skill for all?

Recently, I came across an email campaign by Zomato titled "No cooking January". What the hell, I wondered. Are they urging people to order in all their meals for a MONTH? The email says "This month you can do more of what you like the most – stay in bed, catch an extra snooze or two, watch your favourite shows and binge on all the food you crave."

What a perfect recipe for weight gain and loss of health, that too being prescribed for a month like January when people usually make fitness resolutions!

I vividly remember this conversation that happened a couple of years back at a friend's home. It was a varamahalakshmi pooja day and many women from our apartment were at her place, including me. The friend enquired me about my cooking and then turned to another lady and said, "Anu loves cooking. I have tasted her aviyal, it was yum". The lady then looked at me in disbelief, "What? You like cooking?" in a disgusted tone. I confidently responded, "Yes, I do. What about you?" She casually replied, "No, I don't enjoy cooking. I don't have time for it. I'm an engineer". No kidding, this was her exact reply. "I'm an engineer too", I replied in a calm tone.

Firstly, sly remarks about someone's passions and interests is so uncool. Even if you don't have similar interests, you don't have to voice out your opinion so direct in front of someone's face.

Now wait, what's the connection between the "No Cooking January" and this incident? I can hear you asking.

More and more people, especially those who are breaking the glass ceiling and "going places" demean cooking as a drudgery, bore, time-consuming chore etc. They embrace frequent ordering in, takeaways, ready-to-eat processed foods etc. They are the target audience for such "no cooking" campaigns by food delivery companies. 

It is perfectly okay to order in/eat out 1-2 times a month when we are unwell, tired or want to take a break. But if the frequency increases to say, 3-4 times a week, then we should be concerned.

There has been a shift in our mindset towards exercise and fitness over the past 4-5 years. Many of us have taken up either running, gym, pilates, swimming, Yoga etc. We invest atleast 30-45 minutes everyday in engaging in such forms of exercise. The same rigor and commitment is required towards what we EAT as well. Food and nutrition contributes to a significant percentage towards our well-being. Let's not get into a debate on what the exact percentage is. Some say, it is 70%, 75%, 80% etc. 

Here are my 2-cents on why I believe cooking is an essential skill for all, irrespective of gender, educational qualification, job title, salary, perks etc.
  1. It is high time we take complete responsibility towards our daily food intake. Outsourcing to food corporations, restaurants or food delivery startups is a recipe for disaster. I have written enough about packaged foods, its ingredients and how we are being fooled by attractive health related claims. With restaurants, the problems are even more harder to identify, as we don't know what goes into making our food - the quality of the ingredients, hygiene of the staff, packing materials used. We can get food at a cheaper price if we order from food delivery providers like Swiggy, Zomato etc, but no one really knows about the quality.
  2. We don't need an elaborate 3-4 course meal every single day. Let's keep our food expectations simple enough. A simple breakfast and lunch menu can be prepared in 45-50 minutes. We have enough gadgets (mixer, food processor, chopper, blender etc) to make the process of cooking faster. "Where there is a will, there is a way" - if we decide that we will ONLY eat home-cooked foods as much as possible, then we will figure out ways to sort out the challenges.
  3. I find cooking to be therapeutic and provides a good break from gadgets/devices etc. The more we do with our hands, the more our minds are engaged. Be it any skill like painting, crocheting, knitting etc. Cooking provides the similar meditative feel. If you are connected 24/7 to your smart phone and other devices, cooking provides the perfect way to unwind and digital detox every single day.
  4. If we can't afford to spend that 45-50 min everyday, then it is time we analyze how we are spending our time on a daily basis. Are we taking up more commitments? Are we being super busy but not really productive? Are we prioritizing wrong tasks?
  5. If you are like the person above who simply hates cooking and just can't afford to spend time in the kitchen, then hire a househelp to manage cooking at home. It is still homecooked food with quality ingredients, much better than ordering in.
    Last but not the least, let's stop stereotyping women who love to cook are traditional and homely, and women who hate being in the kitchen are modern and ambitious. Please, this is so ridiculous. The media and ads portray such nonsense.
    I cook because I like to take control of my health and my family's health.

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