“She caught me red handed! I had cut open the packet of instant sambar mix and was about to add a couple of spoons in water, when I noticed my mother-in-law peering from behind me. “You know how to make Sambar don’t you?” she asked. My sheepish grin gave it all away.
I am a married woman and…. I don’t like to cook!!! Well before you give me those judgmental looks. Let me make things clear. I do know how to cook, yet it is to me a mundane task that I seldom enjoy doing. But, years back the story was a bit different. Oh! Not that I enjoyed it then, just that I did not know how to cook……at all.
The initial year of being married was sheer bliss. We lived in a little sea facing apartment in Mumbai and just like other working couples, we had our own things to do. Travelling in the Mumbai local, getting back late and partying in the weekends. The kitchen in the apartment was the least visited place, except for the morning cup of coffee and toast, which too was prepared by an over-efficient Maharashtrian maid. I was more than happy and content with the set-up, as I didn’t have to be bogged down by what to cook. Until, the mother in law decided to pay us a visit for a week. Being an orthodox person, she seldom ate food cooked by a maid, which meant, the kitchen had to be brought to some order.
So the Sunday before the D-day, hubby and me, took stock of the entire situation. That is when he popped the most important question. He hadn’t asked me this during our 5 yearlong courtship, nor had he bothered to discover it in the few months of being together as a married couple. “So you can cook right?”
“Well….” my sentence dragged on. I can try. “Maybe I should just pick up some books and read up. What kind of food does your mom like?”
“Mom loves traditional Kerala food. Let’s go shopping for cook books. You still have a week left….”
During the course of the week I spent laborious hours in the kitchen after work, churning out “traditional Kerala food”. The results were of course disastrous, when one evening I could take it no longer and burst into tears.
“I just hate cooking. I have to stand for hours, knead, chop and I even burnt my finger. I can’t handle this anymore.”
Comforting me hubby came up with this brilliant plan. “Let’s stock up instant food mix packets in the kitchen. It is just a week, so mom would not know. And then we could both learn to cook together”. Awwww I melted in his arms… That was the sweet side of him.
As the D day arrived, hubby and I seemed extra anxious and worried. Would we be able to pull it off? The first few days went off pretty well and mom in law quite didn’t find out. However one fine morning, I was caught red handed in the act, when she popped into the kitchen unexpectedly.
It was blasphemy! She just realized her daughter in law could not cook nor did she enjoy doing so.
As a young girl, I was way too happy to be in the kitchen- not really to learn the nuances of cooking, but to dig into the yummy stuff mom used to make. I could never make sense of the numerous little containers that were stacked up there. “How would you be able to run a family later in life if you can’t cook?” This is what my mom would often say. Yet nothing could get me to learn cooking. When friends, would discuss all things related to baking and cooking, I would be lost in a world of my own. Cooking seldom interested me.
But life sure has its own way of getting things straight for you. Over the years, as I matured from a newly married woman to the mother of two kids, the non- existent cook in me had metamorphosed into a mother who could cook up a meal in a jiffy. I still don’t enjoy it, but the kitchen isn’t that bad a place after all now. I guess those innocent smiles of appreciation I get, works as a motivational factor to experiment recipes.
Hubby on the other hand is yet to learn, unlike what he had promised. May be I shall leave the “traditional Kerala meal” for him to learn!!