I’m in India again, but this time with the fam, combining a regular visit to my mum with a longed-for family holiday.
There’s not a great deal to do in the middle of the Indian countryside.
We visited my mum for about five minutes at a time because she can no longer concentrate for more than that. In between visits we read and watch some television in the evenings. Despite there being an array of channels in dozens of different Indian languages plus the usual repetitive BBC World, Al Jazeera and CNN, there are nature programmes on National Geographic but after a while their macho nature – Australia’s deadliest 72; Nature’s Fight Club; Shark Attack – is a little wearing on delicate sensibilities. One longs for Sir David, you know?
So I switched to the FOODFOOD channel and, after several Indian TV chefs imparting their recipes for favourite sugar ad butter-laden Diwali sweets, they featured a report from a conference of Top TV Chefs on how to influence people in India to eat more healthily. Obesity is a growing problem here too, among middle class Indians, let’s me clear, and the Indian physiology – is that the word? – is such that we put on the weight around our middles in the much-loathed and dangerous apple shape.
The influential chefs all put their name to five pledges:
.. Encourage people to cook more at home
.. Increase India’s food IQ
.. Teach India to be technologically food smart
.. Empower mothers and schools to cook healthier
.. Promote the usage of super- foods
I was particularly offended though by Chef Harpal Singh Sokhi, who began with, and I paraphrase here because I can’t remember his exact words,”If we want to change the eating habits of India, we must first get the men cooking.”
Yes! I thought. It’s not just a woman’s job, and with more and more women working no wonder they are opting for fast food or to eat out after a long day. But my face fell as he went on to say that, “No disrespect to mothers but they continue to cook the things they know without understanding about healthy food.” In other words, it’s mothers who are making India fat.
Essentially one could only expect the health situation to improve if those clever, scientific men took charge. Hm. Even the OH was appalled at the criticism of those awful silly women who, with their unhealthy home-cooked food are holding the country back.
Cut to a shot of a schools’ initiative to promote education about food and cooking. All girls. No boys at all. That’s why India needs women, you see, to cook the food. And they can’t even get that right. Grr.