Friday, December 18, 2015

Why cook?

That was a question worth pondering over again. I recently learned how to cook some basic meals at home. This included rice, indian bread, pulses, sandwiches. But this is not cooking in the true sense.

Michael Pollan, the food writer, In his book, 'Cooked - A Natural History of Transformation' listed out four basic processes that have evolved over time, to transform the stuff of nature, into delicious things to eat and drink. They are further documented as follows:-
a) Grill with Fire
b) Cook with Liquid
c) Bake Bread
d) Ferment everything from cheese to beer
Most of the food, I made at home, was readymade in some way or the other. It often needed little preparation. A few of my friend's were good cooks. They would come home sometimes and bring some ingredients with them. They would then grill, cook, bake and ferment them into delicious edible substances. It was all magic. I would go to the kitchen and just observe them at most times. It was fascinating, to see how different kinds of ingredients could be mixed up together, to create a dish. The permutations and combinations were infinite. I guess the trick, was to just keep trying. But it was definitely an art. The wine we drank on some nights, was also fermented in some place, before it reached us. The cheese we ate with our bread, also went through the same process. I was curious to understand, what happened to my food, as it moved from garden to table. At least, I wished, most of my food came from the Garden and was picked with love and care. But I had no say, over this process. Here in Mumbai, I mostly bought my ingredients from the local market directly. The shopkeepers there, source these goods from wholesalers all over the country. These wholesalers, are in direct touch with some middlemen, who in turn, work with the farmers. The farmers need to make a living and being efficient is thus necessary.

Not all their produce, will be produced, from a place of love. The more you produce, the more you earn. Maximum production, maximum efficiency. I could not blame them for the pesticides, and other additions, that went into my food, before it reached me. Oh man! I wish I had a garden at home. I wish I could grow my ingredients and then cook them in my kitchen. Take full control of the process from start to finish. Maybe then I could redevelop a connection with the soil, I came from.  Maybe then, I could develop a connection with the natural surroundings around me. I wish I sounded more poetic in my head. I say funny things some times.


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