Shirley from Basically Vegan posted a quote on Twitter by Mark Bittman. It goes, “Anyone can cook, and most everyone should.” I couldn’t agree more, really.
It is easy to go back to the days of childhood for comparison although the truth is that that was a different period. And I grew up in a different country. But some things remain unchanged. Food, for instance. And nutrition. And health. And family, sharing, joy… all that good stuff. It may be an Indian middle-class habit (meaning, solely driven by practical reasons) to cook at home, each day and every day. Going out for dinner was reserved for special occasions like birthdays or treats (for topping the class or winning a competition… good times, huh!). There was a sense of luxury associated with eating out even though we didn’t ever go to fancy/expensive restaurants. Oh, the colloquial term for restaurants in India is ‘hotel.’ So our constant refrain, “Achcha, can we please go to hotel tonight?” simply meant, “Dad, can we please go out for dinner?” Some days, the answer would be ‘yes.’ And then Mom would begin mentioning that we had leftovers from lunch, and then there was the vegetable curry she had made yesterday that would suffice for one person, and so on. Her last card used to be, “You guys go. I will eat at home.” And that would essentially bring an end to the discussion. And G and I would accuse Mom of being the perennial spoil-sport, hmmph!
The point made is simple. Home cooking is the best kind that ever exists. No matter what you cook at home, it will taste infinitely better than the fanciest food you get from a restaurant. I never bought into this philosophy as a kid/teenager but now, as a homemaker and a regular cook, I can only say – Yes, oh yes, absolutely, without a doubt. There is simply no comparison between the dishes that come out of a restaurant kitchen and those that emerge from my humble 4-burner gas range. The simplest lentil dal from my home kitchen outshines the Penang Curry from the best Thai restaurant. There is something to be said for the hand and mind and heart that cook out of love, for the pure joy of feeding and sharing, for the simple purpose of nourishment and sustenance, for the ones we love.
As Bittman says, everyone can cook. You may not be able to whip up a flawless souffle or a complicated Biryani but you can cook. You will not starve. And you will be able to feed yourself and others the best, simple food that is inexpensive, delicious and healthy. It is wholly possible. It is a life skill, really. And I think it is time folks realized this. Like you learn to drive, like you learn to clean a home, like you learn to do all the tasks that a regular adult does… you can learn to cook.