What are the advantages of home cooking?
Posted on July 15th, 2012

Dr Hector Perera          London

It is very important for one to get educated on the foods you intend to cook before you fire up that stove to cook. One cannot jump out to cook all kinds of food first need to understand the basic cooking such as how to boil something like, pasta, spaghetti, rice, potatoes and carrots. Strictly speaking they are a matter of boiling with water until they are soft.

Some Sri Lankan ladies told me that they do not have a specific technique to cook rice without burning; they say it’s by chance to get it right. It is no surprise how the servants get the rice cooked perfectly, it is the practice makes them perfect. The basic diet of Asians are based on rice and curries, if they are unaware of cooking rice without burning, under cooking or over cooking, how come one go on to cook more involved curries? Now a day they cook rice with the help of rice cookers, so no rice cookers, no rice. Cooking rice on gas or electric fire is easy, only if it’s done with some practice.

 Over in UK there are ready made curry paste bottles and packets, so one put the chicken, beef or vegetables into a pot then just add the contents of a bottle or a packet, as simple as that. One doesn’t have to shop looking for ingredients to cook, just look out for curry paste bottles and packets. Now in Sri Lanka, there are supermarkets in every corner, don’t be surprised to see these curry paste bottles and packets in them as well. The label says it has this and that but to me it’s nothing like adding the ingredients freshly made. One needs to add a certain proportion of certain ingredient to make a dish palatable to your taste. Back home our servants freshly grind the red chillies, coriander, cumin, turmeric oh gosh lot more in a certain portion on a grinding stone. When they added some of it to chicken curry or any other, the taste is totally different to curries made by adding bottled or packets of curry paste. Those paste bottles must have been prepared a few weeks or months ago, filled with preservatives to prevent it goes out so when we eat curries made out of them, invariably we eat preservatives, added sugars, salt, flavour enhancing chemicals and colourings as well. Why not learn how to make the required from scratch unless you just want to eat something.

 Learn the history of specific foods, how to select and store them, and get general tips on how to prepare all types of foods before moving on to the recipes.

Unlike handling firewood stoves, now the time has changed, one needs to understand how to handle carefully, the gas and electric cookers, ovens and the grill. With all these modern gadgets to cut, slice, grind, mix and more things, it is surprising why some people really cannot prepare a home made meal. I must say those days, back home nothing was easy but now the things are different. The problem is, still some present younger generations prefer takeaway, pre-packed, ready made meals and fizzy drinks.

There are plenty of advantages of home cooking. Packaged and prepared meals cost you considerably more than cooking with raw ingredients at home. Preparing meals at home can save you money. Imagine you need to walk or drive all the way to takeaways, then you have the problem of parking, risking to park and getting a ticket. That is need to drive or walk to a restaurant, place your order, wait for your order, return home and serve the meal, you could have made a three-course meal from scratch with time to sit and chew slowly. The food you got may be not enough for three people, little of everything is served, chicken, 2 vegetables then rice packed into a little aluminium container.

Food producers and restaurant chefs use higher levels of salt and fat to make their products taste better to the consumer. Flavour enhancing chemicals such as monosodium glutamate or commonly called ajinamotto must have been added. Some research reports say this chemical can trigger cancer. At home you control the salt, oil and the type of oil added but not in restaurants. In Sri Lanka, coconut oil is commonly used but sesame seed oil also available. These are unsaturated oils, healthy to eat unlike transfats.

Taking the time to plan your weekly menu not only helps to save time and money, but also provides a way to create meals with a balance of protein, carbohydrates and fat, plus all the essential vitamins and minerals needed for the adult and child’s body. When eating balanced meals your body feels satisfied, has fewer cravings and this in turn prevents late-night snacking.

Possible food poisoning

According to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) 76 million people are poisoned by food each year in the United States. They say food poisoning is caused by food-borne pathogens such as bacteria, viruses and parasites that can seriously harm or even kill you. Frequently these restaurant kitchens keep meat, fish without refrigeration for few hours because they shop early morning on large scale and the fridges have no room to store them immediately. These people look for huge profit margins which allows for more possibility of consuming cheap foods prepared by inexperienced handlers. They have no proper food hygiene education, posing a greater risk of improper cooking and cross contamination of foods. Some people are allergic to beef and lamb but the food handlers use the same cutting boards without cleaning that is one way of getting food crosses contamination. They have no patience and time to wash and clean the food they cook because they handle large scale quantities. This is not the same when preparing meals at home; you can better control this contamination, wash and clean the food properly.

Most of these restaurant chefs are inexperienced in food hygiene and the employers need to keep the cost under control so they employ anyone for cheap labour. In UK how many times the authorities have rounded up these places to find out illegal immigrants working secretly.

They say food is a healing medicine, say for example sometimes the people recovering from illness are recommended to get chicken or liver soup because just not medicine but nutritive foods are also essential.

You don’t need the whole family always to prepare a meal but if they can do something, help in doing something bring the family together. I still remember when I was small, went on holidays to my uncle’s place in Nittambuwa, sometimes a few of them get together in the kitchen to make the evening meal. Actually it is no better than a chat show, a kind of gossip time than cooking. They had a large family, occasionally some girls in the family doing little things such as cutting vegetables, scraping coconut or something. The servant woman, the aunt and the grandmother helped in actual cooking so it is kind of family affair. Looking back, the firewood stove kitchens are part and parcel of smoke, dust, heat and floating ash but those days that was the style of cooking, now a rare scenery to see a firewood kitchen. The best thing is try some basic home cooking to see the difference. Any comments [email protected]



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