Food is one item which can be categorised as a necessity as well as luxury depending on which food item is being referred to. On one hand there is the basic ‘roti’ ‘daal’ rice, which satiates hunger and on the other there is ‘biryani’ which satiates desire. The restaurants being closed and people being restricted to their home, has affected the field of food making to a great extent.The art of making food is the domain of the cook. They can be categorised into amateurs and experienced. The lockdown has led to the rise of cooks, from the ones surviving on Maggi and packaged food to the experimental cooks and down to the charity cooks. Why talk about cooks? The images of Dalgona coffee and restricted access to street food and junk food got me thinking how the very idea of being a cook is increasingly being perceived differently.
The Celebrity cooks:
The prevalent idea about celebrities is they lead a life very different to that of the common people. With the busy work schedule and by virtue of belonging to the rich class, celebrities such as the actors, do not venture into the kitchen to cook their food. Covid-19 is an equaliser, does not discriminate between the rich and the poor. Therefore now, the audience suddenly find themselves inside the private space of the actors, cooking, struggling to roll out round roti. This is the newest form of entertainment.
One fine day, Dalgona coffee arrived on Facebook and then suddenly the timeline was flooded with versions of the coffee, well decorated and looking professional in glasses made to look exquisite in white and coffee coloured enigma. For foodies forced to stay away from junk food, it finds its way into their kitchens. Social Media is plastered with home made Pizza, Mughlai paratha, Biryani, baked items and the list continues. Cooking has become the upcoming trend. Selfies have found its competitor in the photographs of home made food items.
The other end of the spectrum
While for a class of the society, being unable to walk into the restaurants, is extremely disheartening, for the pavement dwellers, beggars, migrant workers and truck drivers, existence of food itself has become a matter of grave struggle. To them , being able to get a single meal is clouded with uncertainty. This is where the charity cooks come into play. Some people have taken the initiative to cook food and distribute it among the people who are being forced to sleep on empty stomachs. A simple meal of khichadi or rice and daal is lovingly prepared for these unfortunate people. This act of charity is not restricted to humans alone. There are others who reach out to the street dogs, cooking for them, feeding them. What do these people get? A huge sense of gratitude and a personal sense of happiness.
Cooking has become a therapeutic tool, a hobby, an indulgence. Never has so many different types of cooks existed before this. Neither is it a gendered any longer. The hired cooks being absent from the household, almost every member of the family comes together as a cooking unit. As for the foodies, cooking becomes an alternate passion which probably intensifies the love for food. For the thousands depending on the act of kindness, the cooks appear to be angelic form, driving out darkness and sorrow. It is indeed surprising that cooking has become an integral part of our day to day existence due to the lockdown.
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