A wise person once said, “Eating is a necessity, but cooking is an art.”
Anyone who has ever tasted truly magnificent food will agree with this statement. When you think about it, food is not only something that you take to stay alive, it is something that binds us with others and rejuvenates our senses. Having your favorite meal at the end of a terrible day can change your mood and leave you feeling satisfied and refreshed… which is probably why the agriculture and food industries are always flourishing.
In our culture, cooking is seen as a woman’s job. However, the trends are changing slowly and men are also learning how to cook. Cooking is inarguably a basic life skill that transcends the gender and age barriers. This is why many changes take place in people when they develop an interest in cooking and start learning it. These are the ten most common things that happen when you learn cooking:
1. You Start Appreciating The Cook at Home
“Mama, I want to eat Chicken Biryani for lunch”.
“Mom, my friends are coming over. Can you make some pizza and pasta for us?”
“Begum, why didn’t you tell me we had only Daal Chawal and Qorma for dinner? I would have eaten something outside.”
Such dialogues are frequently uttered in all households. The moms, bajis, betis and biwis are often treated like the house elves were in the Harry Potter books, while homemade food is looked at with disdain. But that changes when you start to learn how to cook. You develop respect for the thought and hours of labor that go into making a single meal. The effort that our moms put in making new and interesting dishes, just so the family can eat healthy food, becomes apparent. Your love for the woman who wakes up earliest to make breakfast and sleeps the latest after clearing the kitchen increases manifold when you realize how messy even making a half-fried egg can get. As a result, you start helping out in the kitchen to decrease her burden.
2. You Can Differentiate Between Good Food And Expensive Food
If, like me, you watch MasterChef regularly, you will know that good food does not need to be expensive. Cooking is all about making the best of the ingredients available and coming up with something new. When you start cooking, you learn about techniques and ingredients that can be used to make a spectacular dish. This means that the next time you come across overpriced food in a restaurant, you can look past the glamorous ambiance and discern whether the quality of the food is worth the price or not.
3. You Marvel at Mother Nature’s Bounties
Juicy red tomatoes, zingy oranges, pungent onions, crunchy carrots, aromatic rice and succulent seafood… there is an endless array of produce that Nature has given us for our sustenance. As a cook, you learn the taste, texture and smell of each ingredient and appreciate the variety available. Each piece of fruit and each grain of rice becomes something to be cherished. Not to forget the flavorful spices that we Desis are specially fond of!
4. You Fall in Love With Your Local Cuisine
Where would we be without garam masala, achaar, papar and the gazillion other things that are staples of Pakistani cuisine? What can be more comforting than gajar ka halwa on a chilly winter evening or cold, sweet lassi on a sweltering summer afternoon? When you learn to cook, you start understanding why certain foods are associated with certain seasons or events. You also become familiar with the nuances of regional cuisines and recognize the sacredness of recipes handed down through generations. Sure, each country has its own special cuisine, but if you’re dil se Pakistani, nothing can beat Biryani!
5. You Become Self-Reliant
Life’s good because you no longer have to wait for anyone else to make you your favorite dish. You can do that, and much more, yourself. In fact, you can tweak things according to your liking. This is especially useful for people leaving their houses for jobs or studies elsewhere. Knowing the basics of cooking can help you control your budget and save your health from the side effects of commercial food. Don’t like excessive garlic flavor in pasta? No problem, decrease the quantity of garlic and increase the oregano that you adore. In short, now you get to make whichever flavor of cake you like, and eat it too.
6. You Become Mr /Ms Popular
Let’s face it: no one says ‘no’ to free food. Your social circle will grow in relation to the people you choose to taste your masterpieces. As your skill level improves, so will your demand among your friends and relatives. If you’re a girl, the aunties in the family will gush over your “sughraapa” and praise your upbringing. If you are a guy, your desirability among the fairer sex will increase manifold and you will come out looking like the poster-boy for ‘new age manliness.’
7. You Start Experimenting
Have you ever thought, “What if I replace this with that? Would that enhance the flavor or ruin the whole dish?” Well, now you can find out. Once you understand the basics of cooking, you can do whichever experiment you like with your food. You might even start making fusion food by taking inspiration from different cuisines. In fact, many of the most famous dishes in the world were made as a result of the spur-of-the-moment creativity. Who knows, maybe you may become the inventor of some innovative culinary masterpieces (Chinese channa chaat, anyone?)!
8. Food Photography Will Become Your Second Favorite Hobby (After Cooking, Of Course)
Nowadays people share almost every aspect of their life on social media… at least anything that will show them in a positive light. And posting picture of yummy dishes along with the appropriate hashtags is a sure-shot way of making you seem like a domestic goddess (or god). After all, what’s the fun in slaving over a complicated recipe if you can’t show it off to others?
9. Wastage of Food Makes You Angry (You Start Treating Food With Respect)
Once you understand all the effort and resources that go into growing and making food, any wastage of foodstuff will seem like a heinous crime to you. You will start treating even the most basic ingredients (for e.g. salt and spices) with respect, as you know what havoc the absence or excess of anything can wreck in a recipe. As an upside, you will start thinking of ways to utilize the leftover food more creatively.
10. All those healthy recipes won’t seem quite so difficult… sadly, neither will all those yummy desserts 😉
All the soups, smoothies and baked goods that you drooled over are now in your reach. Once you understand the concept, you can substitute ingredients and techniques to make your food healthier. But beware: With great power comes great responsibility. The same techniques and prowess that can get you a free pass to Fit-nagar can also push you towards Fats-ville! You can make all sorts of cakes, pastas and other yummy-but-dangerous stuff as per your wish. So you’ve got to use this gift with extreme caution- otherwise, it could turn against you and your dreams of having a healthy body.