Dr Hector Perera London
I have some interest in cooking for a long time even while I was doing my GCSE ordinary level. With the scouts group, I went on camping for about a week when we had to cook. Honestly I didn’t know much cooking but I have observed some cooking at home done by my mum and also by the servants. That time we had nothing but firewood stoves at home but not gas or electric cookers. In a way they are interesting because unless you keep the fire going even with difficulty, there is not enough fire to cook. I really didn’t like any takeaway food from early days because when I get a lunch packet from a hotel, it looks like all mixed up that really lost my appetite for hotel and takeaway food.
At the start we never knew the science of cooking
With two of my friends who attended the same Advanced Level science class at Stafford College in Colombo, I tried some cooking. We had to try by trial and error to find out how to cook rice but cooking fish and meat was not quite a problem because once we added some ingredients then gave about half an hour to cook. Just like our servants we had to shower with cooking aroma a few times as we kept on opening the cooking curries then kept on stirring then tasting several times. When I think about what we did in the past it was really stupid mistake since every time we opened the cooking curries, a shower of cooking aroma escaped then some of them very likely to get deposited on us. We thought that was a normal procedure in cooking. Those two friends also never knew any cooking but we all just tried to cook and eat other than getting takeaway food. Those two friends got through Advanced Level science with high grades and got selected to do medicine but I didn’t get enough passes to do any University courses. Fortunately I got a teaching post in the same college to teach chemistry and physics practicals.
Thinking in the right direction
When I came over to England for further studies again I tried my best to cook and eat than depending on takeaway food which I treat as junk food. I was studying chemistry based studies at Kingston Polytechnic. I had to study, cook and sleep in one room unlike in Sri Lanka. When I went to University, my clothes smelled like a tandoori kitchen. Soon I started to cook in the adjoining room that was abandoned as a storage room. Thinking in the right direction, soon I discovered the scientific method of cooking. British TV cooking shows are no better than our servant’s cooking on firewood stoves. The contestants always opened the boiling curries then tasted the uncooked curries several times then their spit and saliva also got into the curries, is it right? The contestants had no idea of applying any science at all that is why I compared their cooking to our servants back home in Sri Lanka. Those servants are highly experienced in cooking but doing mistakes is a common thing. I am sure if they had the modern facilities they would have cooked much better than some of the British TV chefs who always made mistakes in cooking. The judges always showed funny facial expressions while their competitors cook but than watching any techniques of cooking. Later they go by the taste of the food not the techniques used in cooking. Then the so called winners are chosen by their taste of the food but any techniques of cooking were totally ignored. One must see the programmes carefully, actually to me they are like comedy shows than cooking shows. The contestants run run all over the kitchen area like tandoori chickens and they totally ignore about drops of oil, water or pieces of vegetables on the floor. To me kitchen is like a chemistry laboratory since all the food we eat and drink are made out of complicated chemicals. One cannot say none of the food are not made out of chemicals. I cannot point out in one article the more mistakes the so called contestants make while cooking.
Higher the fire, faster it cook?
Dr Hector Perera