“the practice or skill of preparing food by combining, mixing, and heating ingredients.”
For my whole life I have been eating food without worrying/wondering much about the cooking part. I know the basics of what goes on there. I even have tried on rare occasions few dishes, with varied success. With few of my family members have made their livelihood doing just that so the knowledge and appreciation are there, but recently I have got a better understanding and appreciation for it.
All my life, I had the fortune of being around people who can cook, so good food was never an issue. Last month I had to go to Norway for work for 3 weeks. Since I do not know how to cook, I was prepared to eat outside mostly and occasionally cook Maggi and other ready-made variety food. Accepting the fact that it would probably not be an enjoyable experience or going to be an expensive one.
After reaching there I had the good fortune of meeting a group of friends from south India who stayed in the same hotel and who actually could prepare a decent meal! Since we all went for work, our schedule was mostly to spend the day in office, come back in the evening, rest a bit then cooking started, dinner, a little rest, then sleep and so on the next day. In this, the time we spent was during the cooking process took from 1 to 2 hours to cook, sometimes more. Since we all were in the same room, and the room itself was small, we all took part in the cooking process. Apart from cutting some vegetables, I did very little else other than watch with interest how the process was done.
For starter, I realized that even cooking seemingly simple dishes took quite a long time to do. The cook had to be constantly very attentive and patient as there are several periods involving doing lots of things, then a long period of wait. I am a science student and most things I do well, it is because I have a system and process to do it. Like making tea, I know how many people to drink so I calculate the cups of water/milk, teaspoons of sugar/tea. I am always amazed by how home cooking is many times not done by proper measurements but by natural instinct as to how much ingredients to add. My mum regularly says while cooking she puts things anadaj se(by guess), and similarly, the person who cooks here did the same. He used to put some ingredients, somehow he knew and the food tasted great.
I am not sure I ever will learn to cook much but it is an art I do appreciate more now after spending so many hours around it. I did also come around an article recently talking about if you can’t cook it is nothing to be proud of, and I agree everyone should make at least some effort to learn.