Thursday, January 28, 2021

Don't Cook Your Meals

Thanks to The Great Indian Kitchen a lot of discussions are happening on cooking. I wanted to note down a few of my thoughts in relation to cooking, etc.

I find cooking boring

There might be people who find cooking interesting. I am not one of those persons. I find food boring too. Anything healthy and tasty is good food for me. Probably that's why I find cooking boring. Because cooking is about food.

Cooking regularly for oneself is a massive waste of time, money, and energy

This is especially true for people who have other engaging work to do - people like programmers, teachers, etc. Cooking regularly takes away a large amount of time from your daily life which you could have spent on reading, learning, etc.

In the video above (in Malayalam), around 15 minutes, Maithreyan also tells something to this effect. On the economics of cooking.

Mass production of cheap and healthy food should be a reality

In VMH, I used to eat from the canteen three times a day. I was never starving and even though I missed chicken and beef, I was eating okay. I lost the 4 kgs I gained during internship eating Biriyanis all day. But once I moved to Bangalore, I couldn't find a replacement for this canteen.

Zomato/Swiggy etc are a problem because of two reasons

1) The amount of plastic.
2) The cost because someone has to burn petrol and drive a motorcycle all the way from the restaurant.

The hotels were all catering to the occasional outside diner and would cook expensive and often unhealthy dishes.

Hiring the service of a maid is good for many reasons

For a long time I used to feel icky about hiring the service of a maid. Perhaps I didn't think a lot about it. I used to feel that it is wrong to rely on someone else for one's basic needs like food, cleaning house, etc.

But during COVID when people were all losing jobs and we were literally asked by someone at the local bajji shop whether we needed house help, Swathi and I decided it is time we hire someone's service.

And then I figured out how by redistributing money through such hiring is actually good for everyone. It frees my time and mind. It gives someone who would otherwise be unemployed a chance to do work.

Cooking can do with a lot of innovation

Here's a recent talk I enjoyed watching.

It talks about how bras have remained the same for over a century. Perhaps cooking is like that. At least home based cooking. Nobody has thought about revolutionizing cooking. Sure there are innovations like mixers, grinders, and my all time favorite - rice cookers. (Fun fact, did you know the rice cooker works by the principle that water when still boiling cannot exceed temperature of 100°C? The thermostat of a rice cooker cuts power off when the temperature exceeds that because by then there wouldn't be any water left as liquid).

But we haven't redefined cooking the way cloud computing has redefined servers or the way ebooks have replaced libraries. Maybe some day we will find food pills and that will be it.

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Sunday, January 17, 2021

The Great Indian Kitchen - A Great Movie About the Not So Great Indian Kitchen

If you know Malayalam, you are better off reading Joshina Ramakrishnan's review which captures the whole essence of the movie and places it smack in the middle of the collective conscience of Malayalis.

The first thing that appears on the screen after CBFC certificate is not a 2D Ganesha idol. It is the words "THANKS SCIENCE". What follows is 100 minutes of silently violent, nauseating, sensitive, beautiful modern cinema.


There are a million things said without saying and to spoil them in a review would be a disservice to the movie. I suggest that you head over to neestream and get a week's pack to watch this movie ASAP. English subtitles by 1" barrier will help non-Malayalis catch the subtle dynamics between characters. 

But to appreciate the brilliance of this movie you don't need to know Malayalam, because many important dialogues in this movie are the sounds made by the kitchen in response to the woman who is forced to converse with it against her wish.

But don't for a moment be under the impression that The Great Indian Kitchen is about the kitchen. It is also about the bedroom. And the rest of the house. And the entirety of the society.

The characters in this movie are all of us. The movie is thus a mirror. What we see in it is what we should see in ourselves. But who has ever looked in a mirror and decided to change their life?

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