I can cook. Can you? Many men do, but a majority can’t. They didn’t have to, as their mothers were in charge of the kitchen; wives took over the responsibility later in life. So they never learned to cook.
Some men avoid cooking, saying that it’s not their job. They don’t even try, leaving it for the women folk in the house. Times have changed. Boys and men cook. I’m glad that my son can rustle up a meal. He had to, since he was away.
When boys move away from homes for higher studies and in search of jobs, food is a problem. The allowance from parents and stipends from their first jobs won’t be enough to eat out daily. Not just that. They would have suffered the perils of dining out regularly; I’m sure they all have a stock of Immodium.
How mum’s food becomes the best
These boys who craved to eat out soon realise home-cooked food is the best. It quickly dawns on them that mums are the best cooks in the world. I can attest to that. I’ve also seen that happen with my son and daughter.
The craving for pizza and pasta vanishes. Burgers aren’t attractive any more. The scorned dosas become the most sought-after food. Spice is in. Biryani becomes heaven. Even rice and curry or rasam would suffice. This happened in my home. I’m sure variations of the theme would have played out in your homes.
If boys can’t cook, mothers should take the blame. Let me illustrate with my example. My mother never allowed me into her kitchen. My attempts to clean up dirty utensils were met with disbelief. My mother thought that was scandalous. “How can my son wash dishes?” You get the picture!
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So I never learned cooking until I left Kerala (a south Indian state) for Ahmedabad (a city in the western Indian state of Gujarat) for my internship. I shared a house with two friends, and one of them did all the cooking while we cleaned up.
How did my friend learn to cook? I was sure he had a mother like mine. I had my answer soon. Instead of cooking Kerala dishes, my friend made dal fry, aloo gobi, bhindi masala, vegetable pulao, etc. He learnt it from his former roommate’s mother, who had visited them often. They were from Uttar Pradesh (a northern Indian state).
I returned with my newly acquired skills, eager to show it off. But my mum would have none of it. The kitchen was her realm, and there was no place for my culinary skills. She relented on the days chapatis were made, allowing me to make phulkas.
I’m sure many of you would relate to my story. Many mothers would have nipped future chefs in the bud. Yet, most well-known chefs are men. Guess they didn’t have a mother like mine.
How all men can cook
Most men cook these days. They wouldn’t have learned from their mothers, but they would make palatable dishes through trial and error. With videos on YouTube, Instagram and TikTok, you have recipes at your fingertips. All kinds of masala mixes are readily available in supermarkets.
My appeal to mothers is to teach your children, boys and girls, to cook. It’s a lifesaver, especially when they are stuck in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar cuisine. They will thank you for the skill.
Boys, cooking is not a woman’s job. Look at the chefs of the world, a good majority are men. You don’t have to be a chef, but cooking will come handy when you are tired of eating out. It can be therapeutic too. You may even love it.
As for me, there weren’t video recipes and masala mixes. My Ahmedabad stint helped when I moved to Bengaluru. My cooking improved as I added Kerala dishes to my repertoire. During my trips home, I used to discuss recipes with my mother, and her input helped. Now, I think I’m a better cook than my wife. I hope she’s not reading this. No worries. I won’t go hungry.