Many people compliment me for both my roles, of a Pathologists and a cook. But what they don’t know is that I am a ‘good cook’ only because I am good at Pathology, my speciality. My culinary skills have grown leaps and bounds only because my subject. Trust me, I started cooking only after my MD. Before that it was just basic cooking when my mom was out of town or sick. I married during PG, but started family life after fellowship with a 2-month-old child in hand and life in a foreign land. All alone, with no support, no maids and craving desperately for some yummy Indian food. I had to do it all by myself, if I wanted good food. It was like learning to swim when your ship sinks in the middle of sea. Thanks to my learning in Pathology, I could master the recipes with first go. No failures at all. You must be wondering how… because it’s just like following grossing and staining protocols. I knew what happens when you deviate from the protocols. Thanks to the support of my seniors and teachers at JJMMC, I learnt my lessons well. Now, I easily cook complicated Baking-cake art, (yes, I am a baker too), Thai, American, Italian, Arabian (Konafa), Yemeni, South Indian, North Indian, South Karnataka (Ragi mudde), North Karnataka (Jola rotti), Hyderabadi (Biryani, Haleem), Gujarati etc recipes. The plethora of menus which I can cook is like the sub-specialities which me as an Indian Pathologists can work in and is expected to report, ranging from Hematology, Cytology, Histopathology, Clinical Pathology, Biochemistry, Immunology, Serology, Lab Quality, Lab administration, Renal & Transplant Pathology including EM, Transplant Immunology, little bit of Microbiology and of course clinical specialities in times like COVID. Our MD degree in Pathology is like a one-man army. I was fairly surprised when I found that there are dedicated Lab doctors for each speciality in other countries with even few restricting their work to just their sub-speciality. Hats off to our Post-graduation teachers/professors, who fill our kitty with all these skills moulding our personality in just 3 yearlong training, the shortest residency training in the world. My deepest gratitude belongs to my teachers.
Pathology is filled with innumerable reference to food. Right from anchovy sauce pus, strawberry gallbladder to swiss cheese appearance. So, when you are a Master in Pathology, it’s an organic progression to mastering cooking.
Now I know how best to clean meat-based items, how best to cut vegetables, how to de-vein prawns (aspirate marrow), how to make use of kitchen gadgets and equipment (automation) while knowing to do them the regular way (manual tissue processing), how best to avoid overcooking (overfixation) or undercooking (underfixation), to use the right measurements in baking (weighing the reagent to prepare stain solutions), how to bring out the flavour in food (antigen retrieval), how to use the perfect colour combinations (thanks to exposure to stain like Movat’s pentachrome), which food combinations work well (dual IHC) and the like. And there’s no doubt that I follow all the safety and quality protocol for my kitchen as well. I run a small internal training program to train my children in age appropriate menus. My friends and neighbours come to me for observership program. And once in a way I invite guests over for external accreditation. I have successfully passed the toughest NABL/CAP level accreditation by my mother-in-law.
Cooking and baking for me is a stress reliever after reporting a heap of slide trays. I switch myself off from the cases, not thinking what IHC to order the next day, whether to call it class III or class IV lupus, whether the margins are clear or not. And it has nothing to do with me being a woman, its just my interest. My husband also cooks. But he is a limited knowledge cook. I strongly believe that ‘Cooking is a life skill’, just like swimming, your gender has nothing to do with it. All humans need nutrition, and if you know how to eat, you should know how to cook. Period.
So, next time you taste my food, remember, you know whom to thank for. Of course, my residency training in Pathology! And by the way, you are invited to my home anytime.
DECLARATION: This work is my own.