Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Rice, Water ....and Facepalm !!

 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! 
        It is almost thirteen years now that I had got into this  food fix ,  but my epic silliness coupled with lack of cooking concept , ensured that the scars of the public shaming hasn't quite healed yet!  

Written as part of the Food Tales with Tiny Owl contest by Tiny Owl App in association with Indiblogger . Do download the lovely new food ordering app Tiny Owl from here on iOs and here on Android.

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