My father does not know what I do. When I read cookbooks, he finds it funny. When I show him a complicated recipe I have mastered in theory, he smiles, pats my head, and walks away.
I am seven. It is difficult to explain what I want to do, but I know what I like doing. I want to cook and eat. Flavors fascinate me. Spices make me happy. Seeing the butcher cut meat is intriguing, and I know why curry cuts cannot be used for making Manchurian chicken.
They need to be small and boneless to be in the Manchurian chicken. Otherwise, it would not be cooked right.
I know that because I read a lot of cookbooks. But then again, mother doesn’t like me cooking. She yelled at me last night when she realized I was trying to turn on the gas the other day, and ordered me out of the kitchen. My grandmother tried to protest, but my mother yelled at her too.
I don’t like it when people yell.
* * *
I am eight. Still in love with cookbooks. Still wanting to cook. Still banished from kitchen. Thankfully, grandmother is smart enough to make me do small work. I have a small knife to cut vegetables now. My grandmother cuts potatoes in different ways, and tell me why. You cannot cut them the same way, because that way, they won’t cook right. Everything needs to be uniform.
I tell my father about my dilemma. He takes me out to dinner sometimes. Or a quick meal outside. Mostly cutlets, if we are in a hurry, followed by a few sips from his bottle of Gold Spot. I like Gold Spot.
‘Taste everything’, he says. ‘Taste and remember what you ate. Think what you ate and how it was made. That makes you appreciate what you are eating more.’
* * *
I am eight and three fourth. My father told my mother to stop barring me from the kitchen and let me cook. I boiled water today. I took a pan, filled it with water, put it on the gas, and let it heat. The water started to bubble in front of me. I was enthralled.
Too soon, ma turned it off. But it’s a start! I will cook! I look at my father with shining eyes, and he looks right back at me! We grin at each other, because we know it’s a start.
* * *
I am thirty. I can not only cook, I make a living eating, cooking, and talking about food non-stop. After a considerable amount of time, I found what I liked doing the most, and I was helped by the one person who believed in me. My father.
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