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The 1st day I woke up away from parents, I nervously realized I'd have to go the kitchen and make coffee. Since then, my kitchen has taught me lessons that will last a lifetime!
The 1st day I woke up away from parents, I nervously realized I’d have to go the kitchen and make coffee. Since then, my kitchen has taught me lessons that will last a lifetime!
It was a foggy winter morning in the month of December, when I found myself lying in the bed under the velvety blanket, warm and cosy. I slowly opened my eyes, trying to prevent the sunlight peeping through the curtains, from blurring my eyesight. Only then did I realize that it was my first day in our new apartment, into which I had moved in with my husband, just the previous evening. My first day away from the warmth of my parents…
I forced myself to get out of the bed, slowly heading towards a totally unexplored, strange new place of my home- ‘My Kitchen’. This is a place with which most of my childhood memories are associated, a place where most women’s day begins and ends. The kitchen was a place where I often ventured into with my mother but never dared to enter alone!
Just like any other morning, I yearned for a cup of coffee but little later did I realize that that day, I had to make one for myself. I opened the refrigerator door and found it, too empty with just a packet of milk, few eggs and a pack of bread.
I poured the milk into a bowl, kept it on the stove for boiling and stood beside it watching keenly.
Though I had done this several other times, that day I was extra careful as I didn’t want the milk to spill over, knowing that I had to clean it myself otherwise. While I stood watching the boiling milk, I learnt my first life lesson- “Patience”!
Later in the day, I sat down with a piece of paper and pen listing out the kitchen groceries as it was a prerequisite for cooking. For the first time ever, I went out all alone for shopping the groceries which was no less than solving a puzzle for me.
I tried to identify the different type of dals (from Moong dal to Masoor dal, from Toor dal to Chana dal), grams (green gram to black gram, horse gram to Bengal gram) and gourds (bottle gourd to bitter gourd, ridge gourd to snake gourd). I was left perplexed while deciding their quantities! Yet, I learnt another life lesson- “The Planning”.
Every day, I experimented with various ingredients and endlessly tried to create the best possible flavours. With each day passing by, I grew strong in my cooking skills, learnt many life lessons from my kitchen and tried to put them into practice too.
I understood the importance of logical planning, decision making, patience and delayed gratification as I waited for the cake to bake and cool, as I made the list for grocery shopping, as I chose a recipe, as I searched for the ingredients in the fridge, as I mixed the items in the right order while preparing my dishes, as I added salt or any other spices to my dishes.
Moreover, I enjoyed the freedom of cooking in my kitchen, which is the only place where you are free to use any of your creative ideas to bring out a delicacy.
Though it is said that a “Messy kitchen is a happy kitchen”, cleanliness is an indispensable part of every kitchen and has a psychological benefit too. The mere act of cleaning our surroundings and keeping the things organized helps us to clear our mind and regain control. Therefore, I followed my simple kitchen rules:
If you empty it, fill it
If you spill it, wipe it
If you open it, close it
If you turn it on, turn it off
The kitchen is also a place full of dangers- hot cookers and pans to sharp knives and scissors. This place reinforces the importance of staying safe while you are preparing your food.
At times, cooking gets stressful both physically and mentally. If not careful, we may get burned and also burn others. This is applicable in real life too. It is very important to recognize our strengths and weaknesses. We should never overburden ourselves with more than what we can handle as it leads to poor performance.
There are times when things go invariably wrong in a kitchen. I have burnt rotis at times, I have made mushy rice, I have spilled tea, I have added more salt to dishes.
But it’s okay to make mistakes (even in life) as we learn from them. There are no cooking videos on YouTube channel or no cooking books which can teach us cooking. “No one is born a great cook, one learns by doing.” A person is said to be experienced only after they learn from failures over time.
It is never too early or too late to learn cooking. It is good to instil the passion for cooking in our kids which helps them create wonderful memories.
The “two minutes Maggie” and the microwaved foods are fast to cook but are definitely not good for health. Real cooking takes time. Even though the time taken for preparing the yummy “parathas or biriyani” is more, the end result is always the best.
Similarly, in life “there are no shortcuts for success.” Shortcuts are always too tempting initially, but the success attained through them is neither worthy nor long-lasting.
Besides all these, my kitchen has made me more confident than before. I can now manage to serve any number of people even if they make a surprise visit to home. I can now prepare a good dish in spite of having minimal ingredients at home.
Cooking doesn’t mean cooking fancy or complicated delicacies. A simple dish made from fresh ingredients and seasoned with love makes cooking a perfect task.
Today, I use my kitchen as a path to achieve happiness. Someone has rightly said that “Eating is a necessity but cooking is an art. Yes, it was necessity which made me start cooking and I am trying each day to harness imagination, hard work and creativity to serve my family with the best and healthy food!
In the process, I started loving and respecting Mother Nature, for she has given the wonderful, colourful and nutritious fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, adding colours and flavours to my dishes. Peaches to plums, pumpkins to papayas, broccoli to cauliflowers, berries to cherries, cumin to cloves, cinnamon to cardamom, dill to mint, and so on…………. Mother Nature definitely has the best box of crayons and spices!
Today, I believe that the kitchen experience is far more than about just food and nutrition. It teaches us the life lessons which are essential to overcome the failures of outside world. It is a place which brings families and cultures together on one table.
Eating together and sharing meals is a powerful tool to spread the message of love. “Cooking is nothing but love made visible”.
My kitchen is definitely not just an area or space but is indeed the heart and soul of my home. It is the lifeline of my home and family!
Image source: still from Ghar Ki Murgi
I am a consultant pathologist at SRL diagnostics, Fortis hospital, Rajajinagar, Bangalore.
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