Some people think it is an insult and a disgrace to know home cooking
Posted on June 20th, 2015

Dr Hector Perera      London

Many years ago in Sri Lanka nearly every single household had servants. They are like the part of the family and live at the place they work even cooking was a full time job. Sometimes they had more than one servant, a woman and a youngster to whom they just call as boy than his name. In some houses they even employed a driver as well just to drive the car, may be driving was also a servant’s job.

The servant woman or the girl’s job starts as early as 5.00 am or earlier in the kitchen to prepare the morning breakfast for the family. She had to prepare the breakfast for the family as quickly as possible because the lady and the gentleman of the house go out for work early morning and the children had to get ready for the school. Most of them had to catch the early bus because only a few had a chuffer driven car. Today the buses are virtually empty when compared to few years ago. I can remember a private bus company called, Sri Madura had a great respect to both of my parents. Sometimes the bus stops and waits for few minutes in front of the house until my mum gets ready. She was a school headmistress and the bus driver or the conductor always gives the front seat emptied with great respect. I am sure that was because the bus companies were owned by private wealthy people unlike the present day situation.

Sri Lankans eat rice and curries

The staple dish of Sri Lankans is rice and curry, at its finest a miniature banquet whose contrasting flavours coconut milk, chillies, curry leaves, cinnamon, garlic and Maldive fish”  bear witness to Sri Lanka’s status as one of the original spice islands. They cook anything from vegetable curries to chicken, fish and other kinds of meats including dry fish. Sometimes sprats are cooked and sometimes they are fried along with dry whole chilies. One must fry sprats, sardines or prawns to see the difficulty. You don’t believe the smell that deposits on you after cooking, unbelievable. No wonder some ladies never admit they know cooking.

 Other kinds of food as well prepared

There are plenty of other unique specialities to explore in Sri Lankan foods such as hoppers, string hoppers, kottu rottylamprais and pittu as well as plentiful seafood. Sri Lankan cuisine can be incredibly fiery with liberal use of chilli powder.

The servant woman spends time in grinding red whole chilli, onions, salt and maldive fish on Mirisgala” then again grind for a short time with freshly grated coconuts to make the Polsambol”. If just Lunimiris” is required to eat pittu and appa then no coconut was mixed. Today just put the ingredients to the grinder and in a matter of few minutes, all done. That is not the end, she has to make string hoppers or appa as well. Then needs to attend to the firewood stove to keep going. It’s not easy to keep the firewood stove to keep going because sometimes the firewood may be slightly damp then it keeps on smoking than light up immediately. This is an important tedious part of cooking that is to make fire or the energy needed for cooking. Sometimes the servants get yelled by lady of the house, if the breakfast was getting late. Today just open the fridge to find a variety of things, so no problem of breakfast in time on the table.

Many different kinds of dishes are prepared by servants and the list cannot be mentioned quickly. Apart from breakfast she also prepares the lunch and the supper. Rice and curries preparation is a very tedious task. One must see actually how difficult to prepare them from scratch. Today some people just open a can or packet then job done. For all these and for many more reasons, today the people stick to easy way out than cooking traditionally.

Some Sri Lankan ladies pretend, not knowing to cook

So far the things what a servant had to undergo are too much and the people think, if they knew cooking they would be regarded as a servant woman. If we ask anyone, do they know cooking, they think it is an insult to know cooking because back home this cooking was done by servants.  If we asked from a Sri Lankan lady, if she knows cooking, she might think we have treated in the same level as a servant woman. Just a couple of years ago, I mentioned about my type of scientific cooking to a bank manager lady at Nugegoda. Then I asked if she knows cooking. She quickly responded, No I got a servant woman, I don’t cook”. Then I realised that she thought it was an insult to know any kind of home cooking.

Visiting servants ruin your belongings

Even today there are visiting servants to cook the food for some families. Some families who live in apartment blocks in Colombo or even in local areas employ visiting servants. They come and cook the meals enough for the supper as well. We visited a few friends who lived in Colombo and the cooking aroma smell was everywhere in the house. Most probably they were not aware of the smell is due to lots of volatile chemicals escaped from the ingredients. These chemicals deposit anywhere and everywhere and ruin them by depositing on them. This is because the servants cook carelessly in high fire because they are in a hurry to go somewhere else to work for more money. They not only cook but sometimes ruin the things in the house with these volatile chemicals. Those cooking aroma deposit on the TV, telephone, the curtains, on the walls then creep into the bedrooms as well. Most probably one has to inhale while sleeping.

The places are fairly small unlike country homes. One day I tried to answer the phone in one of the houses and I was surprised to see it was sticky due to escaped oil molecules from cooking. I have practiced my scientific energy saving cooking and found out that smell can be controlled to some extent but cannot be avoided. One thing the cooking aroma depositing on the person who cooks can be definitely controlled. I have done several times and I am quite confident on that technique. That is based on science, nothing else.

Have you seen some British TV chefs cooking?

I think these British TV chefs love to have chemical showers while cooking, they virtually inhale these chemicals and who would say it’s healthy? There are research evidence to show that inhaling those cooking aroma can give respiratory and cardiovascular problems in time to come. In one of the papers I read some chefs in China suffer from these kinds of health problems because when cooks like in Chinese woks by tossing the food up and down and in that time plenty of cooking aroma gives out, invariably that method gives out plenty of chemicals. In the cooking aroma there are chemicals from food ingredients such as oils, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, mustard, garlic, ginger, onions, curry leaves, chillies, curry powder, turmeric and many more things in the cooking pan. Each and every ingredient has more than 15 to 20 different chemicals. So how many chemicals would be in a cooking aroma? Who would say to inhale that cooking aroma is healthy? Do they add those things to have a chemical shower or to flavour the food? They have very low boiling points and escape with the increase of fire.

My method is unique and officially accepted

May be one day, yes only if they wanted to know my scientific energy saving and smell saving cooking then I will reveal the technique but until such time let the British TV chefs shower with cooking aroma and enjoy their cooking. I feel sorry for the TV presenter ladies or gentlemen who have to shower with those chemicals by standing near the fuming cooking pans. Honestly that kind of cooking is not quite scientifically correct but if they do not want to know then I will leave it to them, have fun.

Our Kussi amma cooking better

In that case our Kussi amma” knows better cooking than these so called British TV chefs. Again I can say that kind of cooking is not scientific and no wonder the people think that knowing to cook is an insult and a disgrace. The things would be certainly changed when one day if they see my kind of cooking. I have demonstrated and talked about in Sri Lanka but one has to be fortunate to understand both Sinhalese and English to understand what I explained in my TV cooking demonstrations about scientific cooking. Sirasa TV cooking demonstration and SLIC cooking demonstration are available in Google Alert. One of my questions is if my work is accepted in Sri Lanka why not it is accepted in England? As I said before as well, if anyone proved that my work does not save energy then I would give away £50,000 yes fifty thousand sterling. Your comments are welcomed [email protected]

One Response to “Some people think it is an insult and a disgrace to know home cooking”

  1. Fran Diaz Says:

    Dear Dr Hector Perera,

    I agree with most of what you say here. I agree that that oils broken up under high heat can cause trouble both inhaled and eaten. Bad oils such as margerine and hydrogenated fats can lead to heart disease.

    Looking forward to your way of saving energy and preventing smells due to cooking.

    Re having ‘servants’, which luxury may dwindle away : We suggest entrepreneurs to make ready made foods in retorte pouches as done in the west. It does not need refrigeration. Curries keep well in such pouches. Indian curries are available in the west in such pouches.

    Thank you.

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