Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Cooking For Soul

If there was a World's Slowest Eater contest, J would just not have any credible competition. Yet, she is very interested in the art and craft of cooking. Her miniature appetite notwithstanding, she appreciates well-prepared food and can tell it apart from a slipshod effort - a meal put together in a rush. In general, anything cooked a la Grandma is great - the more faithful the reproduction the better. 

Outside of that, she will occasionally love something we eat out but bringing home the leftovers (which is the majority of J's serving) for the next meal is usually not a good idea. J will have lost interest in it by then and will ask for a "regular" home cooked meal.  Recently, she helped me discover Show Me The Curry - one among many Indian food websites and blogs. It is an over-crowded space with lot of talented people jostling for room and airtime in it. 

Thanks to J's fascination with food, I've spend time looking around these web-sites marveling at the passion of those who create content for it - they can make the humble kichdi and raita look like a work of art. Then there are the variations on traditional recipes, the South Asian take on Western ones and such. As I have wandered around from one blog to the next, I have wondered about the never ending stream of recipes, cookbooks and cooking shows alongside the mindboggling number of options for those who want to eat out. 

I think it may have something to do with the crumbling of the traditional kitchen in our homes. If the mother is not able to introduce her children early on, to the signature taste of her own cooking - a taste that has been around for generations in her family, chances are the kids will grow up rudderless ; constantly seeking the satisfaction of food that nourishes the soul. In their ceaseless efforts to find it, they will try everything. To that end, they will trawl the web, cookbooks, TV shows and restaurants for inspiration and not quite find that special taste that is worth returning to every single meal. 

I used to be an innovative and experimental cook before becoming J's mom. Thanks to her, I am reaching back to my roots, trying to learn the minutiae of my mother's cooking so I can reproduce that taste exactly. As it turns out, it not as easy as I thought it would be.

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