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My worth is more than my cooking skills. It is high time that society starts seeing me as a person with many other talents.
Ask any member of the Indian household, which is the most important part of the house. It is the kitchen!
No wonder so many stories are woven around the pristine area of culinary skills. This prestigious part of the house is where one’s image is made or dismantled.
The whole of our society is obsessed with the power of the kadhai and the karchul.
But in the true sense, is mastering the art of kitchen skills, really that important?
I mean food is key to survival, the pandemic has taught us that we might have to face a day when food delivery will be a far off dream. So many of us learnt the basics while the rest mastered more complex dishes.
I’d personally never been keen on learning the survival skill of cooking till very recently, in my late twenties.
Meanwhile, I’ve learned other survival skills – that of hard work in my profession, maintaining a good financial balance, not experimenting with dangerous hobbies that can become addictive, and making use of my brains in matters beyond the colour of my bridal outfit.
This is not to demean anyone.
In fact, I am sharing my own journey of what led me to value the basic and important skill of cooking.
To be honest, I deliberately didn’t invest my time in learning and experiencing the toils and joys of kitchen skills. I grew up in an environment where this skill wasn’t considered very important.
Also, having a free spirited friend circle made me think that not knowing how to cook wasn’t such a detriment or drawback.
Life and new people entering the same can always widen your horizons and some encounters can make you see yourself in a different light.
Being married, one is expected to possess the ability to whip up a storm in the kitchen, as if a woman is born with a ladle. This is the society’s view.
Fortunately, my partner always knew about my lack of interest in the culinary arena. It never seemed like an issue even worth discussing.
We treat it like a skill that I can always learn for myself and not to prove to relatives. The same way he can hone any skill that he lacks.
The whole drama and stigma around the kitchen ownership is something that I believe my generation doesn’t bother with. We have other realistic goals to chase rather than make a gol roti for society.
But this attitude of freedom is not shared by everyone.
Like many women, I too have been the target of being the dunce in the kitchen.
When people have only one question to ask – What did I feed my husband? What did I make for the parents? What new Indian dish did I learn?
No one is interested in asking anything else whether about my career or personal well-being.
I feel the biggest challenge as a non-existent chef I faced was to not even be allowed to experiment my hand in paratha making or pasta making.
I am well aware of women being protective about their kitchens, like their sole identity revolves around the chimney and stove. And this is where the sweetest of women become cruel and possessive.
“My kitchen , My rules, My decision for entry exit” is a mantra many ace chefs are guilty of.
Probably, it all comes from a place of no harm but there is always this fear of losing control.
Kitchen has been made a place of battle, where a seasoned soldier will break the novice soldier’s weapon and not even give a fair chance to fight.
I have never understood the dynamics of kitchen ownership, nor have I ever understood why cooking is the most valuable asset for a woman. As if, being the backbone of a family, or the steady anchor in a marriage, or the dynamic energy in a room, is never a good enough reason to be valued.
When will our society learn to appreciate an individual based on any skill they have acquired with years of hard work and not on the one set cast of traditional expectations?
We should value women who cook, women who don’t cook, women who happily share their kitchen kingdoms, as well as men who cook.
Don’t judge a woman based on daal kitni gal gayi, ya tarkari kitni pak gayi (how well the food is cooked).
Image Source: Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash
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