"Cooking? No yaar. But I can make Maggi and chai", my new flatmate giggled as she helped herself with a huge bite out of the steaming hot paneer parantha that I had just taken off the pan.
"Yum. I love paneer paranthas!
Well, who doesn't?
I understand when people confess of being passionate about food, but what I fail to comprehend is the pride some people take in the fact that their culinary skills are limited to boiling water or making Maggi noodles. Now, that's no achievement.
Why do some people take pride in not knowing how to cook?
Let's get one thing straight. Cooking does not make you uncool and it's certainly not embarrassing. It's all right if you don't know it, but there is no point being smug about it. I say, don't learn cooking because it'll earn you praises in sasuraal, learn it so that you can help yourself when your're famished and your mom isn't around to stuff aaloo-gobhi in your mouth. Learn it because if you know cooking, you're pretty much armed with a core skill that can save your life.
Cooking has got nothing to do with gender.
While traditionally - or patriarchally - it might be a "female thing to do", with mothers conditioning their daughters into thinking that the in-laws won't approve of them if their cooking isn't up to scratch, cooking isn't really only women's forte.
Everyone loves to eat, right? So why can't everyone cook? Mothers should teach their sons how to hack their way into the kitchen just as ardently as they fuss about their daughters' round rotis.
Culinary skill isn't a threat to manliness, much like it doesn't enhance one's femininity. It's a life- saving skill, for god's sake!
If you ever see the amount of oil that goes into making those fries or crunchy patties, you'll be scarred beyond imagination. No matter how many diet charts you make or gyms you visit, unless you break up with fast food, that stomach fat won't come off. There's no such thing as healthy fast food and there really is nothing like home-cooked food to swear by. The food you cook yourself is fresh, hygienic and nutritious. Even a simple lunch of daal and rice is far better and nutritious than a fancy Subway salad.
While eating at a restaurant, all we care about is taste. But when you cook your own food, you're more mindful about your food choices and calories. Think about it.
And, it saves money!
Not only is it life-saving, cooking can also help you save some money. Most of us live away from our families and a major part of our salary is spent to grab food thrice a day. Add up all the money you spend on buying food and you'll be surprised by how much you end up spending. Try embarking on that kitchen adventure with whatever skills you possess and you'll realize how surprisingly cheap it is.
It lessens dependency on others
Knowing cooking immensely reduces your dependency on anyone. What if Didi doesn't turn up someday or decides to go for a month-long summer break? If you aren't a kitchen-fearing inexperienced kid, at least you won't starve yourself to death. No one is expected to cook like a Master Chef, but if you can tell Chana daal from Moong, and how much water it requires to make khichdi, trust me you are doing reasonably well for yourself.
Cooking is therapeutic
It doesn't take a Master Chef to appreciate the nuances of cooking. I remember my grandfather once told me that cooking is equal to creating a garden on fire. It's now that I realize it actually soothes your nerves, releases anxiety and gives the biggest life lesson of being patient, along with a promise of an appetizing meal at the end.
With every toss or whip, you let the anxiety out and give a chance to your inner creativity to shape up. It makes you see your food in a whole new light even when it's not an elaborate four-course meal.
Cooking is a wholesome experience that can make you fall in love with food even more. It's a great skill to have and there's no reason why it should be bound by gender. Knowing how to cook doesn't make you any less cooler, just like how dissing it doesn't make you sophisticated. It's an incredible skill equally essential for everyone.