I once went to a basic sciences course after graduating from high school, and there a chemistry professor who posed us with a question, “Do you know what cooking did to early humans?”. Obviously, as high schoolers, we were oblivious to any answer to that question. And he said, “It pushed the life expectancy of a human from 25 years to 40, cooking just slows down bunch of chemical reactions in our bodies, allowing us to live longer”. It took some time digest the statement, but as I looked deeper into the statement, it made a lot of sense; When we cook, we pre-digest the food so that our bodies don’t have to break down the material for assimilation, allowing us to slow down the ageing process. Every time I cook, I recall that statement from 2008; I think of the chemical changes taking place on the pan, allowing us to live better and longer. And that has been primarily how I have approached cooking. Breaking it down to the mere act chemically changing the food itself.
But every once in a while, I end up thinking about what makes good food good. Is it the taste, the texture, or merely the people around us sharing the food? Is it how the food looks, or how the restaurant served it? Most of my favourite meals ever, were in the most unexpected of places. My favourite bratwurst is a bratwurst I ate on a date. The best instant noodles I had was on my way to a glacier in Himalayas. Most amazing daal I had (read “lentil soup”) was in a seedy highway-side restaurant, slightly burnt. The best fish I had was probably in a smelly Norwegian fish market. All in all, food is complicated, and it has layers to it worth exploring.
Today we have a fairly uni-dimensional however somewhat orthogonal selection of articles from the New Yorker, that I thought you might enjoy about food and one of my favourite recipes from last year (not that I am a huge fan of Jamie Oliver).
How to Make Mushroom Stroganoff | Jamie Oliver | VEG
The Hunt for Mexico’s Heirloom Beans
Bite it, squeeze it, suck it… The right way to eat mango
Chhonk, the Indian Spice Infusion That Enlivens Most Anything