Getting the fundamentals right


When I was in school, my Mom used to stress on the importance of learning multiplication tables. She said - get these right and the rest of arithmetic will be easy as 1, 2 and 3.. I never mastered tables beyond 17, Perhaps thats why Math and I live under an uneasy truce.

She had something similar to say about cooking- learn a set of fundamental techniques and you will be on your way to becoming an accomplished cook. She emphasized things like prep work before the cooking aka mise en place, sautéing techniques, etc and the correct way to make Chai.

She believed that strong fundamentals would carry you a long way!

Growing up, I flitted in and out of the kitchen - Staying just long enough to sample the tasty tidbits but getting out before I could be assigned a chore! Had I lingered for a while more, I would have learned more about patterns.

As an undergrad in Pharmacy, I learnt the concepts of density, surface tension and elasticity and their importance while creating dosage forms. Many years later , on an odd day as I struggled with a slightly wet filling of a Puranpoli that I realized that I could successfully apply the same theories that I had learned in my Chemistry classes to practical uses at home. Similarly, salad dressings have never fazed me - I have to thank my pharmacy teachers for their lessons in welding a pestle and mortar to create stable emulsions.

There is a seminal book in Computing called Design Patterns. The book is about recognizing and resolving common problem patterns that they might encounter. It is a book that most programmers will have read. It's value is in letting developers especially newcomers understand how not to expend their energies reinventing the wheel by using tried and tested methods to solve known issues. As I started cooking in earnest, the patterns inherent to cooking started becoming apparent. The fundamental sauces, The reason to use cold butter while making biscuits.. etc.

Cooking as I realized albeit late was much the same as Computing and Chemistry. It is just a matter of mastering the fundamentals and recognizing the patterns. Once you get a hang of these two steps, cooking, actually anything becomes easy as 1, 2, 3....

OMG my Mom was right after all!

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