Sunday, September 23, 2007

Make my way back home and...

Learn to Cook.

So, what with all that is going on in my life at the moment, fate, circumstance, choice or any combination of all three or perhaps two, had decreed that there was a need for me to acquire new skills. One of the skills was that of cooking. I didn't want to be a fellow who lives on takeaways, microwave meals and has a permanent desire to be invited for dinner just to get a good meal.

If I were Italian I could have considered living on takeaway pizza, particularly as I have the epitome of great Italian cuisine at the end of my road; a Domino's Pizza place. But no, as far as food goes I'm a Sri Lankan through and through. And if I'm going to learn to cook then it may as well be Sri Lankan food that's going to be high on the list.

I wasn't a total imbecile as far as cooking goes, just about three quarters of an imbecile. I could whip up a decent meal as long as it was bacon and eggs, perhaps with toast, providing you didn't expect it to be served at one time. I can also make rice. So, many bases were covered.

But things are different now. The girls, unreasonable as they are, expect me to cook for them when they're here. Bolognese and chili con carne are now staples for me, as well as being basically the same thing but with or without kidney beans and cumin and some chili powder. I can knock up a decent mild chicken curry for them, as taught to me by my Mum and sausage beans and mash is something that always goes down well.

The portfolio needed to grow, it was up to me. So I decided to consult an expert; my Dad. If I wasn't typing this on my laptop I'd put a nifty litlle link here to lead you onto that post I did a short while ago in which I told you about his mutton curry and Yala and things. But, Safari, Blogger and me is a combination that doesn't get on all that well so you'll have to imagine, or search manually. I steamed over to the olds' place with an appointment. It was an appoinment to learn how to make parippu, my first essential and no mean feat.

The no mean feat is not because dhal, or parippu, is that hard to make. No, it's because my Dad is that hard to learn from. Like most of these good cooks he doesn't follow a recipe as such, he doesn't count tablespoons or measure quantities and weights. He just cooks, adding a bit of this, that much of that and some of this as he sees fit until he comes up with some sort of culinary masterpeice. It's a method that works for him and for his guests, but it's not a method that's conducive for learning.

I figured that the way to tackle his modus operandi was to translate his instructions into normal English. So, when he held his fingers up to tell me that this is how much of that to put in, I'd translate it into "add 1.5 teaspoons of chili powder after 7 minutes of simmering". You get my drift. I turned up with pen, paper and good mood, all the essentials.

He cooked, I watched, wrote down and asked questions. Half an hour later he had produced a dhal to die for and I hadn't the faintest idea how it had happened. However, I had faith that I had written down the method, the quantities and the finer details and I had confidence that I could go away and recreate it.

Some days later I felt that the time was right, my day had come and it was the time for me to step out into the big bad world.

I had spent most of my life preparing for this event. Like an athlete in training I felt ready and was at the peak of physical fitness. I was in the zone and chomping at the bit, I was up for the challenge and would never be more ready. I knew that it had to be donw and I knew there was no turning back. I had accepted the challenge, I had grabbed the baton and it was up to me to do the rest.

I opened the packet of lentils.....

to be continued...


cerno said...

Happy you are back writing longer posts :)

All healed up I hope. I think you might as well write up a post about the experience and carry a print out with you to hand out to people when they ask about your experience ;)

Sort of like this but not so brief ;)

Indyana said...

Part with the recipe please! i won't judge it by what you did out of it!

SpectralCentroid said...

That's one awsome bloody song.

Dominic Sansoni said...

When I lived in England, I became master of the twenty five minute rice and curry. Start with the rice, that takes 20 minutes. Next, chop loads of onions. Back in the 70's (?!*?) there was a brilliant pack of Seeni Sambol mix; I carried loads back with me to the UK. Well, fried onions, many spoons of SS mix, a tin of Pilchards (28p) and leave the lot to simmer. More onions, fried with more SS mix and added to lentils as soon as they were cooked. Had the whole thing timed so all ready at the same time. The sad news is that I then became cook for all the others staying at the same house.