…is a perfect science. I somehow never managed to get around to learning how to bake. I still wonder why. It’s not as if the yummy chocolate cakes, the tiramisus, the brownies and the biscuits have not caught my fancy. I love them all. But getting around to actually baking them myself? Nah! Too much effort!
Earlier this week, I launched into a reflection about why, despite my interest in cooking, I never went for classes of any kind, baking or cookery. After extensive introspection I arrived at a rather simple conclusion. I do not like to treat cooking like a set of instructions to be followed. Weighing and measuring ingredients reminds me, rather unpleasantly, of my (failed) experiments in the chemistry lab. For me, cooking is instinctive. It is liberating. Above all, it is a joy.
The only time I tried to take cooking classes was in school. Faced with a choice of gardening, needlework, electrical gadgets and cooking, I decided that cooking was perhaps the most interesting and the least troublesome of “work experience” lessons. What I didn’t bargain for was that I would be stuck with a roomful of 17-year olds who couldn’t cook rice in a pressure cooker without burning themselves or the rice, or both. The result was rather disastrous. I ended up spending an entire term learning to measure out rice and water, admittedly not the most interesting of tasks.
Twelve years later, I still find myself incapable of following instructions in a recipe book without having to compulsively make modifications to it. I can still not measure or weigh anything when I cook. For me, cooking is very ad-hoc, much like Remy in Ratatouille. I throw in whatever catches my fancy and in whatever measure I deem fit at the moment. The taste, the texture and the colour are all indicators that I am right in what I do. My eyes and my nose are my guides when I cook. My tongue tells me if I have gone wrong when I finally sit down to eat.
That said, I have always admired the patience and meticulousness of those who bake. When I ask for a recipe of a cake or a dessert, I often wish I had the patience to take the time off to actually try it. Maybe that’s why I am not that great at making sweets. I find myself wishing that I could add a souffle or a crepe or a cookie to my repertoire, but I somehow never seem to progress beyond pal payasam and rava kesari!