New format cookery shows have garnered more respect for a less revered art form
My grandmother is the kind of south Indian lady who prepares ‘anna’ and ‘sambar’ day after day with unassailable pride that conveys disdain for any other cuisine. That is why I was stupefied to see her offering me mughlai paratha and paneer mutter one day. Delighted nevertheless, I grabbed a plate and tucked in, while asking her, between mouthfuls, how she learnt to make this.
“I watched it on the cooking show. You liked it? Tomorrow they will show a Gujarati dish and I will prepare that for you.”
How I was grateful to the new age cooking shows, right then — myriad in number, language and styles!
Out with the old
Many of us must have often switched channels when the old cooking shows came on, listing a bunch of ingredients, followed by a conventional lady in a sari explain the making of a dish, never taking her eyes off the stove in front of her. The ‘hmms’ and ‘aahs’ of the host after the tasting did not inspire much confidence either.
Now, armed with a range of cuisines — Mexican, continental, Thai, north/south/west/east Indian, Japanese, Spanish — and loads of glamour, camera technique and presentation drama, food-based shows make the art of cooking seem exciting.
Cooking has finally been recognised as an art rather than just a daily chore.
These shows have also generated more respect and dignity to this less revered role, and even for professional cooks.
That different recipes from across the world are being tried out in our own homes and that we often discuss these with our friends also indicates a cultural exchange in process.
Many clever cooks substitute an exotic product that has to be flown from across the globe with a locally available ingredient, with a fairly good result.
This leads us to the question of whether cooking is an art or a science.
The ‘science’ in cooking starts when you collect ingredients, identify which ones work well, and blend them into flavours that delight or create miniature disasters.
It is all a bit like a chemical equation. Adding ingredients A and B and applying heat gives a certain outcome.
On the other hand, cooking is also an art. It is symphony of taste, aroma and colours that stimulate the senses.
Perhaps the best effect of cookery shows is that many like me would stop complaining about the ‘sambar anna’ put in our plates every day. Preparing that too is a complex, dramatic process after all.