Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Simmering before cooking

The nervousness comes first, before the serving, before the cooking, before the planning. Now that you've invited them, you'll have to learn to cook. To make matters worse, there is a cook among them. They feel each taste, mull over textures, analyzing, scrutinizing, judging. Judging. The final authority, pronouncing you competent or otherwise. The word sounds severe but isn't it usually that way? The final word. The end. This isn't an opinion of your food, it's an opinion of you. Barriers can be constructed anytime, but cooking a meal is an intimate act which requires a lowering of your defenses. The barbarians will ring the doorbell, cross the moat, and tell you just what they think of your sauces and starters and lunch. So it does get personal.

9 comments:

|| sbk || said...

And hence you pass with flying colors...from now onwards you can continue doing what you do best.....Writing?? nope...cooking for us....hehehe

rads said...

:)
oooo, you paint a sordid picture of your guests!

Life Lover said...
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Life Lover said...

Finally someone who dreads cooking as much as I do :) Yep, the thing I fear most is the judging part. Personally, I enjoy cooking most when I do it for really close people who I know will eat my burnt paratha with a smile and lots of pickles ;)

Rahul said...

Oh no, Rads. I find it difficult to look at a meal subjectively. When you invite someone for lunch or dinner, what you're basically saying is, 'come home where I'll cook you something to eat'. It's a simple proposition only on the face of it. What goes into a meal, what you want coming out of it, how you want things to be arranged, what colours you want the food to be, whether the food should be spicy or sweet, and then what about the textures? You can't have too many similarly textured foods at once, too. And then you can be innovative. In fact, the thought of doing something new keeps me up. So I find it impossible to relax because it's so personal. And I wonder: is this how directors and authors feel when they know the critics will come in? Like Julian Barnes, I too want to leave the country.

Rahul said...

Life lover, I suspect that if you cast a small net, you'll find others petrified of cooking, too. I'd say you're fortunate with the understanding people around you. Around here the fun's in the riling - 'too little salt!, too much sugar!, not enough grinding!, is this bhaji or a soup?'

Salil said...

Ack.

Although if you think that's bad - try attending a wine tasting with highly experienced connoisseurs or sommeliers. Or even worse, inviting one over and then having to select an appropriate bottle/food pairing.

Rahul said...

Salil, wine makes me shudder. I love it, and am a closet wine drinker. But it's the thought of people sniffing at it, swirling it in a glass, closing their eyes and sucking in air that scares me. It all looks so sophisticated. I suppose one could learn if one cared. That's why one goes for beer. You gulp the lot and while holding the mug your little finger doesn't stick out.

Deepa Krishnan said...

I enjoyed that post very much!