Cooking - Quintessentially Essential

Learning and adapting have been a part of our human behavior for millions of years, with lately many who are looking to adopt new skills while at home. Due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak, many are confined to their homes, unable to access services that would otherwise be easily available. This has forced them(with also the availability of additional time in hand) to learn skills that were either on their bucket list or just out of plain old need. There are two skills that have really stood out, especially considering they are frequently broadcasted over social media - Grooming and Cooking.

Spinach-corn sandwich - something good, something doable.

While the first is a need-based skill, a necessity for those who are expected to provide presentations from home, the latter is purely a situational skill. Yes, we call it situational skill as had it been a necessity, why wait for a pandemic to teach us a basic life skill? We, especially us urbaner, have been so used to takeaways, deliveries, fast food, and easily available frozen foods that many homes and co-living spaces don’t even have a fully functional kitchen. Keeping these aside for a separate topic, we would like to throw light on the growing need for the basic culinary skill that everyone should possess.

Psychologically, humans belong to a certain group of evolved mammals who rely on hunting for their own food, rather than scavenging. Not necessarily calling it predatory, humans have always had a need to work for their meal, be it hunting other animals or cultivating their crops and vegetables to cook their own meal. Our enhanced senses of taste, smell, and even touch accompanied by our physiological structure nudged us to explore mixing a variety of different vegetables and spices to enhance our meal. In short, humans were naturally destined to learn how to cook, however, our active lifestyles and reliance on technology held us back.

Indian society has often stereotyped the household kitchen to be a woman’s domain. This is to the extent that we only find male cooks either in restaurants catering to an occasion or as Halwais preparing sweets in the local condiment store. However, the national lockdown has, and we hope it truly has, moved Indian males to the kitchen either because of the regular cook’s absence or to provide a helping hand to their partners. Whichever be the reason, this welcome move is going to shift the mindset towards culinary art being considered as a “serious” career option for many Indian males or ignite a new hobby in their minds or just simply get them to hone this skill to be utilized regularly. This is great self-preparation considering studies show that such outbreaks could become seasonal.

People are also being inspired to try cooking new dishes and unattempted territories when they see their favourite celebrity’s culinary skill on entertainment news tabloids. Social media updates and networking sites too are being used regularly where people are showing off their creative kitchen skills. This is inspiring many more who are bored of their regular food routines to try out new recipes, upload them online, to get these in front of friends and acquaintances in a click of a button. And the cycle continues.

Cooking is not just an essential skill that one needs to learn but it is also considered the only form of art where the artist uses all of his or her five senses to create something from scratch. Apart from just showcasing his/her skills, it is also an art form that can be created to be directly enjoyed by its creator. So let’s use the additional time that we have been unfairly rewarded to learn something new and tingle our taste buds!