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We’ve been having some cooking chaos during this COVID-19 crisis, as our daughters take over the kitchen with a certain – ahem – attitude!
Everyone in our house is a cook. I mean, everyone likes to cook. We are a joint family made up of 3 women 2 men, and my niece who is a college student and my daughter who likes to call herself a working woman.
“You may be cook, but call us Chef,” says my niece. When I ask what is the difference, I am told, “Cooks cook all the boring stuff, Chefs create and present their creation in a very creative way which makes their food a culinary delight. You cut vegetables and cook them, we chop and grate and sauté all in controlled conditions. You just pour or scrub all the food in utensils and cover them. We display it.”
Long long ago before corona virus came to our city, we ruled the kitchen and there was no confusion. Then came the pandemic and it created chaos.
As soon as the lockdown was declared, the college student and the working woman in our family announced that all the people who were helping around the house would be given paid leave for 2 months at least. They not only declared this, but conveyed it to the concerned persons; most of whom arrived the next day for work as they thought the girls were joking. (They knew the girls right from their childhood so did not believe them)
After getting confirmation from us, however, they departed and for next 15 days they did not enter our house but worked in the neighbourhood. We saw them moving around our area while we did their work and paid them for not doing work.
The girls promised to help in the household work. And the first step towards this was to announce, that everyone would wash their own plate. As this had come from the daughters, the fathers quietly agreed. So after every meal, (which now we all took together as everyone was home ) there used to be a queue for washing ‘your own plate.’ The rest of the utensils were divided amongst the ladies. ( We live in a patriarchal society, my daughter told me) But it meant we spent a long time in kitchen. The best solution I found was to eat quickly and wash a bit till others finished their meal.
The working woman said, “In our house,” (she is living with her friend in another city) “We have a rule. One cooks, other washes.”
So we decided to apply the same here. But after someone made tea using one utensil to boil water, one to boil milk, one to mix them, and one to cool the tea, we changed the rule to you cook, you wash. And anyway, beyond washing their own plate, it was useless to expect the males to wash.
Since everyone was free, everyone wanted to cook (Sorry Chef. No it doesn’t sound correct) But not a whole meal, just a single special dish. And so there would be confusion. Because no one planned the menu.
We older women would cook all the boring stuff like dal, rice, vegetables chappatis and dump them in utensils and deposit them on table, after which the girls would descend upon the kitchen. They would create a colourful thing, decorate it, clean everything, and then take photos and post it on Insta and Twitter and whatnot; while we would sit around the table calmly watching their antics and waiting for the ‘cuisine’ to be deposited in our plates.
Of course, they were good chefs. But we had lots of left overs leftover. And disposing them off was a problem as visiting was not allowed and we could not share with relatives.
The girls believed in being Atmanirbhar. So they would not ask for help, and the resultant confusion would culminate in a large amount of the dish fit to feed an army.
“But, I calculated like we do in our house. We need 1 cup rice for 2 of us, so I thought since we are 7, we will need 4 cups!”
“Well you only eat one dish so it is OK, but here we eat other things also,” I told the working woman after she had prepared a large amount of biryani. We ate the biryani for 3 days even after we had given more than ½ of it to the poor policemen who were guarding the containment zone near our area.
Being Atmanirbhar also meant they worked their own sweet way. So if the recipe said mix the dough and keep it covered for ½ an hour, they would do it and not utilize that time to cut or grate the other things. So we made them start cooking (I can’t say cheffing) at 6 o clock, if we wanted to eat at 8 pm.
Before starting to cook, they would call us (We would be sitting in the drawing room, they would be in the kitchen).
“Do we have cauliflower? And corn flour?”
“Look in the fridge” we would reply.
“But it is not enough. They say 2 cups and we have 1 1/2 cup.”
“So calculate accordingly”
But then their mood would turn off and they would prepare something else. So I started keeping a constant supply cabbage, carrot, capsicum, cauliflower, cheese, corn flour etc at home so that they could prepare Chinese food (it was not boycotted at that time), Pasta, Pavbhaji, Pizza, Patties etc.
Being someone whose job came in essential services, I was the only one who went out of the house for work and would be the one to buy the essentials for the house.
I would get a call from one of the girls – “We have a sudden craving for chips and chocolate. Get green Kurkure for me and orange for her. And I would like dark chocolate. Don’t get Cadbury. And cream biscuits. And Oreo. We don’t get Oreo at our place. Really you would think that Oreos are available in big cities! I think I better WhatsApp you what we want.”
And the list went on and on. “And Aunty says get some vegetables and Aji wants fruits.”
Also, it was a big chore after coming back to clean all the things purchased. The vegetables had to be washed and dried especially the green vegetables. All the grocery packets would also be washed and then kept to dry on the kitchen platform. The girls helped in this and within minutes all the chips and cookies and chocolate disappeared.
This washing and drying of all things purchased was tedious and one day I had a bright idea. Instead of washing each packet, I thought I would put all in a bucket full of water. It will save water too, I thought feeling very virtuous.
So I did it and after removing all of it from water realized that it had entered some packets especially the bakery. And we gathered round to stare at 15 squelchy pav and 8 wet bread slices. So we frantically searched the Net/ YouTube for recipes which used soggy pav. We made pancakes and patties and paneer pakoda but were still left with few soggy Pav which we had to throw away.
I would prepare myself for every crisis imaginable or unimaginable whenever I entered the kitchen. One day our working woman remarked “We should buy more cups. We don’t have enough.”
Well, 3 dozen cups is enough for a family of 7 I thought.
“Why for what do you need more cups? We have enough.” And then I glanced at the table and the kitchen top and found the cause why there was a cup crisis.
The college girl had been in a mood to cook all the things in mug. So she made mug cake, mug soup, mug pasta. And as she would not eat it alone, she made it for her cousin also. And they were going to try a new recipe for noodles/ pasta/ spaghetti whatever (they all taste same to me) and religiously following the YouTube god which said take ½ cup grated cheese and ½ cup grated carrots and 1 cup cabbage and ½ cup cauliflower etc., they had taken out all the cups available and had spread them on the table.
Naturally, there were not enough cups.
By this time some of the people working in the house had started to come back to work as lockdown was partially lifted. And of course everyone had their own idea of clearing the kitchen. Every day, the things would be found in separate places as each one tried to clean the kitchen.
One day I arrived in the kitchen to learn that all the trivets which we used to keep hot utensils on had disappeared. Trivets as you all must be aware, are things that we keep under hot utensils so that the table surface is not burn or stain. We searched high and low, right and left, outside and inside. But all in vain!! Finally they were found n the top of our 7 feet tall refrigerator. How and why where they placed there is a mystery till date.
Oh I really miss those pre Covid days!
Today the girls have planned to make ice cream, and for dessert we are planning to have ice cream with chocolate sauce or mango slices. Wait! What is that! What did I hear?
“That is soya sauce not chocolate sauce!!!”
Image source: shutterstock
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