To put it simply, I'm in an illicit relationship with food: It is simply based on lust ! I devour good food, but I hate cooking. I despise going to the kitchen, and I'm oblivious about how to make even the simplest of dishes.
It's therefore deducible that I have ended up with major face palm moments , whenever I have been forced to give up my indignation at cooking , and prepare something for myself . Speaking from prior experience, I can state that being armed with zero-expertise , you can land in major food fixes , at the most ridiculous of situations.
So , with a thoroughly crimson face as I get reminded of this incident, I take you back to December 2002 , when I was in an adventure camp in the rocky hills of Purulia in western fringes of Bengal . I was part of a group of 8 advanced campers, who, under supervision of two instructors, had to spend a couple of days away from the campsite-proper . We had to build our own makeshift shelters , learn to gather firewood and cook our own food , after trekking up a rocky hill trail .
On reaching a suitable spot after 4 hours of toil, I was terribly hungry , but our ration consisted of rice grains , uncooked eggs and a few pieces of potatoes. With hunger gnawing at my intestines, I gathered dry leaves & chopped dry branches and twigs with a vengeance , to assimilate firewood quickly. After a lot of effort sitting hunched down in front of two stones with the fuel material accumulated between them, and guarding the wind blowing across, I could finally light a fire . Taking a saucepan out of my rucksack and putting the rice and some potatoes in it , I placed it on my self-made stove and sat down with another wood piece , occasionally stoking the fire . Looking around , I found some of my fellow campers were already cooking , while a few others were still huffing & puffing over the dry branches, struggling to light up the firewood. The instructors were moving around, checking the progress , and occasionally lending a helping hand.
After about 15 minutes, I found no discernible change in my saucepan, but I told myself that I had to be patient . One of the instructors came to check on me , asking me, " How's it going, Titas? Ah.....Nice fire you've done here !" I looked up to say "thanks", but to my surprise, I found him staring at my saucepan with a queer look on his face
" What's this you're preparing, may I know ? " , he enquired.
" Cooking some rice ,sir ", I replied coyly .
" Then where's the ........" , he peered more closely into my saucepan ," where's the water ??"
It was my turn to get puzzled. " What water sir ? " , I enquired .
" Titas , you're cooking rice . Where is the water you have added ?" , the instructor was still incredulous.
" Do I need to ADD water to this rice to get it cooked ?" , I was appalled !
The instructor simply slumped down on the grass beside me. By this time people around had also taken notice , and gathered around my oven. A few were giggling . I still could not make head or tail of what was wrong. I had to add water to cook rice ?? I didn't have the slightest inkling what they were talking about .
The other instructor spoke up, " Titas , haven't you ever seen rice being cooked at home ? It boils , and you have to decant the extra water once it's done .......don't say you haven't seen it ever !"
I had indeed seen it , but I spoke what my mind knew , " Yes sir , but I thought , that the water came out of the rice grains when it was being cooked! "
There was a roar of laughter at this , and even the two instructors were reduced to tears of laughter . I was embarrassed beyond my wits . My ears burned . Here was I, an expert rock climber of the team , who possessed all trekking skills , but even the slowest and worst climber was now having a hearty laugh . The joke was on me! My loathing of kitchen practices had played a cruel game on my prestige !
I remember one of the instructors sitting down with me to help me fix up a dish of sorts. Even then , the rice and eggs were undercooked, but I was too ashamed to complain ! I finished every last bit of it without a word!