Kannada article by: Taarodi Suresha
English Rendering by: M R Bhashyam
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We are witnessing a great transformation in the way food is prepared now-a-days. If someone who had visited India hundred years ago were to visit today, he may not recognize the way food is prepared.
The first aspect that comes to the attention is mechanization. Implements and machines which save time and effort, like the mixer have replaced the traditional hearth, the stone grinder and the pestle (onake).
The second change is the instant food items. Instant dosa mix, instant powdered spices, partially baked eatables, a long list. In these inevitable times when both the spouses work, these have aided immensely for completing the cooking in the least possible time.
The third change is that of the utensils. Instead of copper, brass and bronze, plastic is shining in all its glory. Though there is sufficient awareness about the harmful effects of plastic, their variety and low cost still make them attractive. One can also especially see the use of aluminum, steel, glass and ceramics.
One need not take a bath before preparing food. Clean clothes are not very important. If the hands are washed properly, is it not sufficient? It is enough if the food is clean and tasty. The earlier days of cleaning and wiping the hearth (the fireplace where the food is cooked) and decorating colorfully with varieties of powders (rangavalli) and cooking after taking bath have vanished. To cleanse and decorate today's metallic stove is funny.
Should men cook or women? In the earlier days, the wife used to stay at home. It was appropriate that she cooked. Now things have changed. The wife also goes out to work. So, the argument is, whoever has time has to cook.
Should the mental state play a part in cooking? What an insane question is this? If the food is clean and tasty it is fine. Whether the food is prepared in anger or in grief, it will not be spoilt. It is sufficient if the knowledge about the ratio and proportions of the ingredients used for cooking different dishes and the method of preparation are known. Taste is for pleasure and cleanliness is for health, varieties are for joy, these should be known. To prepare this kind of food is the art of cooking and the chef need not know anything beyond.
Where should the kitchen be located in the house? In which direction should the hearth be positioned and the cook be stationed? What food should be cooked on what days? These are but matters of belief.
This is how the thinking goes now-a-days. But the relics of the practices of cooking in our country tell a different story. "Kala - art should lead to the Lord of arts" is the rule given by Shri SriRanga Mahaaguru. Let us examine cooking, in the next article, on the basis of this rule and in the context of the introduction above.
Note: The Kannada version of this article can be viewed at AYVM blogs.
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