I think, Roslyn and Piyasena were better cooks than some of the TV celebrity cooks.
Posted on June 12th, 2011

Dr Hector Perera UK

The future is solar powered cookers

Many things change with time, economically, politically, socially, scientifically and in many other ways. We had a battery operated radio that is no smaller than a present television, we never had a home telephone, a fridge and many more things commonly found today in an average Sri Lankan home. My dad was a doctor of medicine but never had many new gadgets, in some rural hospitals where he worked, not even electricity. We had a kerosene cooker instead of the present LPG [liquid petroleum gas] cookers. The cooking was by firewood and usually done by servants and kerosene cooker was mainly to boil a kettle. Those days many families had one or two servants, a young or old woman to cook and a boy to do all the other work including marketing but today it’s unimaginable to have a servant because most of them have left the country for foreign employment, the time has changed and going to change, gas cooking could be replaced by solar powered cookers.

My mum was a Sinhalese school head teacher, by second nature she knows her cooking and sometimes she finds the faults of the servant’s cooking. Today we have to manage all the work done by servants, including cooking. Did we know cooking by taking lessons, absolutely not, just do it by trial and error or just depend on takeaway food? When I think back, our servants, Piyasena and Roslyn were better cooks than the present day so called celebrity cooks.

 Smell of fried dry fish or prawns

Would you like to fry some prawns or dry fish [sprats]? Then one would notice that the volatile vapours from these food items go from the kitchen to the living room, may be even to the bedrooms, the smell is quite noticeable. I noticed if I hung up my outside coat by the front entrance of the house, it smells like fried dry fish. If you don’t believe me, would like to try and let me know, here is my email perera6@hotmail.co.uk

I think, one of the most important things is to be aware of these chemical reactions and try to minimise the smell, as one cannot totally avoid the smell. I have demonstrated this kind of cooking, how to minimise or in some cases to avoid these so called curries smells totally. How do I do that, cooking scientifically?

 Our servants and celebrity cooks

Today, the TV cooks hardly talk about chemical and physical changes as they cook because they are not scientifically knowledgeable about cooking. Our servant boy Piyasena and servant woman Roslyn as well just added this and that and cooked but no education. I am sure they got the technique after trial and error, years of experience. These TV cooks do not pay any attention to the boiling points or volatility of these chemicals in the food; they just cook with the cooking fire on full blast, they love their pans catching fire, they might think higher the fire bigger the audience, heavier the cheque. I have seen in some UK cooking programmes the cooks purposely let the food catch fire. They don’t think that they are doing something wrong; burn away some of the volatile, essential ingredients in the food, they just cook with full blast of cooking gas and make cooking exciting and exhibitive. Our servants never set fire on food unless it catches fire accidentally. Further they had traditional type of firewood stoves but today there are modern facilities but the cooks behave in unacceptable ways. I am sure, I might have picked up something right about cooking by observing the servants and mum’s cooking but would these children pick up something right by watching these celebrity chefs’s TV cooking?

I have observed how some of these privileged cooks behave rudely then not showing any scientific cooking. They just add this and that, too many verities of ready made ingredients, sauces are added, may be for promotion so they get a cut, use unwashed vegetables, cook meat with lots of fat on them. They just cook the meat under five minutes and serve to eat, not even cooked. When they cut the meat to eat, often appears red, in my point of view, virtually raw meat. Have they got any idea about salmonella and other germs on uncooked meat? I am sure; Piyasena and Roslyn as well never knew scientific ideas but never prepared undercooked food.

Non conductors

Fish, meat or vegetable are non conductors of heat that means it takes a considerable time for the heat to get through the tissues of vegetables and meat. Not just heat, all other ingredients added to make chicken or vegetable dishes tasty, ingredients take time to go through them so that the food get the flavours of the ingredients, am I correct? The flavours of some of the ingredients any way get to the surface of food as soon as they get in touch [marinade] but the heat is the driving force to get it properly cooked. The rate of cooking must be controlled so that the food flavours do not unnecessarily escape before the food is really cooked. Too many chemicals slowly ooze out with heat, then intermingle with similar juices, flavours in the mixture of ingredients. Scientifically I call it intermolecular and intra molecular reactions. First the chemicals stay on the surface, some get absorbed then some get adsorbed or chemi-sorption takes place. One has to understand these stages of reactions, if they were to cook scientifically. There are other terms and words for cooking but let me use them as required.

DENATURED OILS

The frying oils get denatured after frying a few times of something like chips, fish or chicken then that denatured oil cannot be suitable for human consumption, good to make soap. Why do the vehicles have to change the engine oil? When I said denatured what I meant is that the chemical structure changes. The oil molecules are like long carbon chains but if there are no weak links in these molecules, they cannot be easily digested, causes indigestion. These molecules with C=C [carbon to carbon double bonds] are called weak links in organic chemistry, present in unsaturated oils for example sun flower and olive oils. I found in research articles, coconut oil is also suitable for cooking. Some cooks say margarine is a “hydrogenated fat”, I have my doubts how much of that is understood by cooks or the children.

Worked from scratch

Piyasena and Roslyn had to cook from scratch, not just open packets, tins and bottles. They did lots of hard work to make a meal; I think may be two hours or more not in a half an hour. In my view anyone can cook by trial and error but the children should not use fire without adult supervision.

I would show the scientific safe cooking with a view to save about 60% gas that is wasted. If my scientific idea was proved wrong, then I will give away £2500 or Rs 500,000. I am sure some energy saving authorities would welcome my idea.

One Response to “I think, Roslyn and Piyasena were better cooks than some of the TV celebrity cooks.”

  1. AnuD Says:

    For some reason, Sri Lanka is very slow ro grasp these ideas and there are so many ministers. But, the govt is not interested implementing any of these things.

    The reason, I suppose, suggestions and decision making are always from the top to bottom.

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