Like most teenagers I didn’t like the idea of going into the kitchen to cook-only to eat. My mom used to try to interest me into helping her in the kitchen, but I didn’t want anything to do with it. I used to think, I am never going to cook, I will have others cook for me. In my naivety I didn’t understand that not cooking is not liberating.
My mom tried to teach me some basics before I came to US, since she didn’t want me to starve or spend too much money eating out. My first couple of months I struggled with cooking and change in food. I didn’t even realize I was struggling until I had a breakdown one morning when after working through the night on an on-campus job, I burnt trying to cook the only food I had at home, I also didn’t have any time to buy dinner as I had to run back to work. While I wouldn’t say that was my defining moment, I did realize then, that I had to improve or go back home.
I slowly started improving, and got much better when I moved in with a friend. My best friend with whom I live has always loved my cooking, which I think is one of the main reasons I started liking to cook so much. When someone appreciates what you do, it motivates you to do it better. I know many women who think that cooking is regressive and take great pride in claiming inability to cook! The other excuse I hear a lot is, “I know how to cook, I just don’t like to cook!” I know it’s an excuse because it’s what I used to tell my mom when she would try to teach me. Anyone who thinks cooking is regressive for women, clearly don’t know what they are talking about. Cooking is a liberating, stress relieving therapy. Anyone-man or woman-by the time they are living by themselves should know how to cook. That’s one skill which will make you truly independent! Besides not relying on restaurants cooking at home is healthier too, you control the amount of oil, sugar and salt you add to your food-the main culprits for unhealthy food.
Whatever I know of traditional Indian Gujarati cooking, I have learnt it from my mom, and my sister and I am so thankful to them for it. Cooking is such a great way to pass on your tradition and culture to the future generations. I know of a family friend who teaches her 15-year old son to cook so that he isn’t dependent on his mom or his future wife for meals all the time. I think that’s pretty cool, starting them young-nobody has said cooking has to be just a woman’s job! Just that it’s therapeutic, gives you some time for yourself, saves money and makes you healthier. Now with all those benefits who wouldn’t want to cook for themselves!