Cooking it up


Arshid Malik
A couple of years ago an employee of our company fell sick while he was in the office. He started getting dizzy and nauseous and had a terrible stomach ache. We drove him to the nearest hospital and he was treated there. Under the treatment and diagnosis part the doctor who was doctoring him asked him what were his food habits and if there was anything he had consumed in the past few weeks in order to point out the causative of the sickness.

The employee told him that on Eid ul Adha, which was a couple of days ago before his collapse, he had eaten around three kilogrammes of beef. The doctor asked him whether the beef was consumed cooked or roasted by him and he replied, to the astonishment of everyone supervising the supervision of the doctor, that he had eaten it raw – straight off the bone with his bare teeth. How on earth! But he had attempted and accomplished this feat. Then he described the habit of eating raw meat and beef straight off the bone in their region which is by all fair means quite far flung. Well that is one hazard of consuming uncooked food and that inversely implies the need for cooking food and then consuming it, as also the necessary art of cooking.

I assume that I am a good cook. I just took to it while I watched my mother cook in the kitchen back home and since she is an excellent cook I chewed on the habit. I started making my own dishes soon enough and after the insightful completion of a dish my mother would slap me several times to convince me of the fact that I made her kitchen messy as also the fact that she was afraid I would sometime burn myself or God forbid burn down the whole house. And then I learnt the art of cooking while keeping the kitchen clean.

My art was totally “heartistic” and my dishes turned out to quite wholesome and tasty while I followed my heart vis-a-vis the ingredients and the cooking time. I would just slip into it and was it meditative or what? Of course it was meditative and still is. Whenever I am disturbed because of some issue at home or office I take to cooking and that settles me down gently. But then there are hazards that are a part of cooking. Don’t tell my mom what I am about to tell you. I was in the kitchen last Sunday and while preparing a meal the LPG cylinder caved in, which is to mean that it was deplete on fuel. I turned the cylinder upside down and bought myself some more cooking time.

After five minutes or so the cylinder was empty and I unplugged the regulator and with that I heard a hiss. There was some more gas in the cylinder and unfortunately since the valve of the cylinder was stuck gas was leaking out. I tried to fix the issue by plugging in the regulator and then plugging it out which in fact treated the error but I was sure that gas was still leaking out. Now since I bear the knowledge that major fires have broken out due to faulty LPG cylinders or piping, one needs to make sure that everything is in line. And that is just what I did but in a very naive way. I lighted a matchstick and brought it into the proximity of the cylinder’s valve. It caught fire and I almost burnt my eyebrows off. I won’t disclose how I put out the fire because I don’t want to humiliate myself more.

 A few years back a friend of mine and his entire family had gone out to the UAE and left their beautiful house to the lonely care of a servant. The servant was supposed to tend himself as no one else was around.  He was not particularly familiar with modern kitchen equipment since he mainly attended to household chores other than cooking. The very first night while he was alone he started off to cook himself some food and loaded potatoes into a pressure cooker with water and all.

After waiting for some half an hour or so he dismounted the cooker from the gas stove and attempted to open the lid. The lid just wouldn’t come off. It was sealed because of the pressure that had generated inside because of the steam and he did not know that. In utter desperation he grabbed a hammer and started pounding on the lid of the pressure cooker. Tremendous force lead to the collapse of the lid and the all that was inside exploded in the face of the servant and all that while it was steaming hot. He burnt his face and the kitchen turned into a mess. He had learnt his lesson the hard way and now even the whistle of the pressure cooker sends him rolling into a grizzly fit.

So cooking is an art that involves great risks and hazards. But as far as I know cooking is meditation and it stills your mind. And since our women do all the cooking, they are more balanced and patient.

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