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A crack whip

My husband’s biggest grudge against my mother was that she never taught me to cook. I wasn’t allowed in the kitchen except to hunt around for snacks, writes Madhumita Gupta.

india Updated: May 15, 2007 01:45 IST

My husband’s biggest grudge against my mother was that she never taught me to cook. I wasn’t allowed in the kitchen except to hunt around for snacks. “Everybody learns cooking, eventually” was my mother’s mantra. I agreed whole-heartedly.

What we hadn’t bargained for was that once married in far-flung Rajkot, I’d have to fend not just for myself but a husband too, whose mother, unfortunately, had been a remarkable cook.

My rock solid excuse that we didn’t have a gas stove, ran out of steam with the acquisition of one. My desperate eyes fell on the saviour, the two-minute noodles, which even I could cook to perfection. I bought bushels and served it for lunch and dinner, with a cheerful smile. However, as far as food was concerned, the adage ‘it’s the thought that counts’ didn’t hold much water. “When are you going to cook a real meal?” I was asked. A soggy noodle dangling from the fork moved me to a resolution. What the heck! Everybody cooks and so could I, and rashly committed, “Tonight itself.”

It took the better part of my day, but in the end I was quite proud of the fact that though the potatoes were of a curious colour and the dal of muddy consistency, both were edible.

Step by step, I learnt the importance and contributions of condiments, colours and textures and could finally manage a passable fare. As Ma had always said, everybody, me included, learnt cooking.

My husband who had manfully braved all these days of experimentations, asked me curiously, “Do you have any idea why the cow outside has taken to visiting us daily? Is it my imagination or has it really grown fat these days? And yes, how in the world has the paint cracked on the boundary wall?”

I didn’t have the heart to tell him that the cow, the appreciative recipient of my failed experiments, was a fellow conspirator in destroying evidence and the crack in the wall, er, was actually due to the surprise birthday cake I’d made for him. How in the world was I to know that it had turned out hard enough to crack the wall, where I’d flung it after even the cow had politely refused it?

Thank God for the bakery next door, which had saved the day!