Diaries Magazine

Cooking up Philosophy?

Posted on the 03 August 2020 by C. Suresh
I never realized how much I really liked or disliked the various foods I ate till I started cooking myself. Alas, that unfortunate necessity did come into my life, thanks to getting a job in Delhi in times when neither salary nor availability of South Indian eateries was conducive to a regular routine of eating out.
Now, it is not like I did not know my mind. My mother would have vouched for that, what with having to deal with my 'Ooh! Why did you have to make upma?' and "What? Is thia ALL the masala dosai I am going to get?" all through my life till then. Not to mention the "Nah! How can I eat that? It has more salt than needed" and all that. I do cudgel my memory to recollect any time I actually said something good about the food but to no avail. No, not senility, my memory is alright. The poor thing can remember something only if it had ever happened, after all.
And then came Delhi...and the need to cook. It was then I discovered how much of a foodie I am, how really finicky I was about taste and how much I liked and disliked various dishes. I mean, like when you are in a hurry, upma is about the fastest dish you can make and, so, I found that I really did not dislike upma after all. The taste even seemed to grow on me. A shade more salt in the food was not all that bad. Besides I needed more salt in my diet what with all my sweating.
The more interesting set of lessons were about how much I liked certain dishes. I mean, yeah, I still liked some of them - the arisi kozhukkattai, the urandai kozhukkattai and the likes - but, really, for all the effort that goes into making them...well, the long and short of it was that I did not like them enough to put in all that effort. When my mom made them, I could not have enough of them...when you are weighing your joy against someone else's efforts, somehow the joy always seems to outweigh the efforts. It is only when it comes to your own efforts that the scene seems to change. (WHAT?? There are people who actually LOVE cooking? So? There are even eccentrics who actually claim to love working.)
Which is one of those things that we seldom seem to apply in life. It is all fine to like a lot of things but very seldom do we see whether those things are worth to you the effort that goes into getting them. It doesn't help that, unlike cooking, you cannot directly correlate the effort with the acquisition. I mean, if you knew that the luxury car will cost you twelve years of being lambasted by a bad boss or six years of high stress and ulcers for a parting gift or some such, it would be easier to take the call on whether your trusty old Maruti suffices for you or no. But, unfortunately, you cannot correlate. Cooking is easier that way to assess...the effort is directly related to the dish. Unless, like me, you start off making upma and end up with a charcoal mine at the bottom of your wok.
The funny thing, though, is that the best cooks I know in my family seem to operate the same way when they are alone, cooking the dishes that take the least effort. It is only when they have family or guests that the dishes that take effort get made.
True of life too, innit? I mean, most of the effort you put in is not because of what you want yourself but because you want to please or impress other people.
Cooking can lead to valid philosophy after all!

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