Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Reality cooking and cooking reality

I am hooked to reality cooking shows.  Or any food show for that matter. Vigorous stirring, basting, a swirl, a toss and that touch of beautiful garnish.  The fancy kitchen equipment, blenders, sauces with even fancier names.

Anyway, work can throw some strange surprises. And here I was helping organise a cooking contest for a publication. Not like the reality shows that we see on TV where you hear the chef scream ' the clock is ticking away... nine, eight, seven. ...' So exciting, so much pressure. But this was different. Cooking had to be completed at home. The evaluation at the venue, by a chef.

I offered to help with the registration of participants. I thought it couldn't be difficult.  I did not foresee the amount of time or the energy required.. and it has indeed been an experience.  For one, we had to deal with  women who called, messaged and mailed constantly. 

Each call was different.  There were some wonderful ladies.  They wasted no time. Asked for relevant information and were brief and to the point.  There were others who just wanted to prolong the conversation.  It seemed they wanted someone to talk to, and it did not matter if you were a willing listener or not. A lady recited a poem.  Another wrote a long mail and said she was a woman of many talents.  Could she also sing at the contest after presenting her dish?

We even had a male who called and argued that it was unfair that only women could participate.  Don't you think men make better cooks?  I am sure they do.  Especially when they venture into the kitchen to make an exotic dish occasionally. 

There were students, housewives, working women, retired professionals and very senior citizens. And for them it was not just an ordinary cooking contest. Believe me it is a competitive world out there. I began to understand the term  'insider information'. The conversation would go on fine, and suddenly a change in tone, lowering of voice... and then the question.. how many had registered? Which category has the least number? Which dish won the prize at the last week's contest? What stands a better chance? Do you think I should make this particular dish and so on... It was not easy handling this type.  Now, I can also fathom the pressures on those in the stock market or sporting world.  Some kind of dish-fixing this?

The enthusiasm of the women just put me to shame. If only it were contagious! I can twist an old phrase - you can lead a woman to the kitchen, but to can't always make her cook.  And in my case that's reality.. 


  1. os true what you said .. you cant force them to cook and cook well too :)


  2. According to our mythology, Nalan was the greatest cooks. A male. :)

    I like your term "dish-fixing". Glad to hear you were able to experience something different. :)

  3. Some kind of dish-fixing this? Lols
    This fixing business has become a contagion.
    It is an entertaining post with muted leg pulls and gentle sarcasm at the many amusingly weird characters that flocked to your registration counter.
    But cooking contests as some guy complained should be gender free and open to all.Why men are good only on occasions with exotic dish?
    I disagree.They can excel even in what is commonly perceived as women's domain!!I am no mean cook thanks to my wife!!
    Enjoyed reading.Thanks Radha

  4. Really liked the part about "a change in tone, a lowering of voice..." and the seeking of "insider information". It's so nice when one can step back and look at it, a bit like when R.K.Narayan looked at life around him?

  5. What you said here is right...some people want to show whenever they get a chance! They asked for inside information? Typical Indian women!

    So, you must have enjoyed conversing with so many different types of women at a stretch!

    It was interesting to read, Radha!

  6. @Bikram - cooking and cooking well as you say are a world apart.

    @ Nona - No offence to man-kind. They do make good cooks. Thank god, that is how I rest frequently at home.

    @KP - As I said, men do make good cooks. But they should cook more often :-)

    @Indian Bazaar - it was quite an experience. And it was really food for thought!

    @Sandhya - They wanted to win and were all out to find out what their chances were!

  7. How amazingly competetive they were!!!!

  8. Hi Radha, its been long since I last visited your blog.
    The posts are refreshing as always. What a term, dish fixing... But you cant fault them for their enthusiasm...
    Loved the last two lines too, how true.
    Have a nice day.


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