Sep 3, 2020

Exposure to tastes

 I think I was around 8-9 years old when this incident happened. I never used to like cabbage until then. My paati (grandma) used to be the one who cooks food at home. My mom was working. I don't remember the details but for some reason, I didn't like the way cabbage was prepared at home. Then one Sat morning, my mom cooked food at home for a change and she had pressure cooked cabbage. Paati was scared to use a pressure cooker, so it was only used by mom on rare occasions. I loved the taste of cabbage that day and was asking for more. I even called it "panju gos" (cabbage that was as soft as cotton). My mom was so delighted with my reaction as her cooking was rare at home and people hardly appreciated when she did. Anyway, that's a topic for a different day.

From that day, cabbage has become one of my top favorite vegetables.

D loves to eat potatoes but she prefers only the version where potatoes are finely chopped along with the skin and sauteed (vadakkal kari in Tamil). She doesn't like the version where whole potatoes are boiled or pressure cooked, chopped into cubes and sauteed with spice powders. 

The taste of any preparation differs based on the cooking technique followed, the seasoning used, the spices added, the way veggies are chopped and numerous other factors, including the mindset of the person cooking the meal.

We quickly dismiss our children as "fussy eaters", "don't like to eat veggies", "doesn't like Indian food" etc. We make such fast conclusions with kids as young as 2 years. How much of exposure have our children received before we reach such conclusions? How many different vegetables do we buy in a week/month? How many different ways have we tried preparing the vegetables?

Have we put in the required effort before resorting to quick-fix solutions from a pack - health mix powders, fortified fruit juices or drink powders loaded with synthetic vitamins and minerals? The attractive marketing and the tall health claims are influencing us to take such snap decisions.

We are living amidst a wealth of information. Just a google search for "cabbage recipes Indian" will yield at least 25 different ways of preparing this vegetable. I'm so grateful to the numerous food bloggers and vloggers who have taken the effort to document many traditional recipes from various regions. It is up to us to develop the curiosity and interest towards exploring and cooking, regardless of age, gender, income, designation, working status etc.

Umpteen options are waiting in line that discourages us from taking this path. Online food delivery apps, packaged foods, instant foods etc all with the promise of convenience and "health-washing". Not to forget the time stealing distractions like social media, Netflix and other streaming apps that take away our precious time which can be put to better use.

Cooking is a productive activity for our health and well-being. Not something to be outsourced to third parties.

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