Both my mother and wife were excellent cooks. Under their loving care, I hogged, commented like an expert, and chose the next day's menu. Whenever I volunteered to help, my wife would tell: “No, butter-fingers, for heaven's sake, no!” Her respect for my uncanny ability to drop, topple and litter was 'sacred'!
Things changed. Nobody is around any more, to feed me or shoo me away. Today, I use my unrestricted access to the kitchen, not to help anyone else, but help myself to survive! On day one, while attempting to make Chapatis, I made a sticky mess of the dough. Somehow I managed to roll it into shapes beyond Geometrical definition, ending up burning some and half-baking the rest. A friend consoled: “When you are the only one to eat what you cook, why worry?”
As if possessed, I plodded on to recreate cherished tastes. Overcoming my deficiencies wasn't easy. I couldn't distinguish Mustard seeds from Sesame, Aniseeds from Fennel, or Cumin Seeds from Caraway. Unsure of the time the cooker took to boil, rice often ended up either semi or over cooked! Then came COVID 19. As eateries shut shop, I began dreaming about the day when ready-to-eat food could be directly downloaded from the internet!
It was amidst such wild thoughts, that I stumbled across a YouTube cookery site, where preparing food was made to look like kid's stuff. Encouraged, I began to experiment. The slips “'twixt the cup and the lip” were numerous! Yet, I carried on. Today, I can just about fill my stomach, also fulfil my appetite to some extent.
However, my Primary school days and the weekly 'Craft' classes, where we learnt to stitch, draw, paint and so on, often come to mind. No one then had the vision to include Cooking in the syllabus, or familiarise us with basic recipes and common ingredients. If kitchen didn't excite me all these years, and remained just an extension that came with the house, I now know whom to blame!