Nobel Laureate Abhijit Banerjee: Many say they can’t cook to save their lives; I don’t believe them

Abhijit Banerjee in The Print:

Many people have told me that they cannot cook to save their lives. I don’t believe them. A lot of them can build a dresser out of an IKEA box – despite the fact that the instructions read like they were written by a wall-eyed robot whose first language was Esperanto, while writing code in C++ or programming a television set to switch between the news and a soccer match. How could it be possible that they are not able to follow a simple set of instructions? 

Most culinary disasters, of which there are many, come from either underconfidence or overconfidence, and usually both. What undermines confidence is in part the memory of past disasters, cakes that leaked dough, meat that tasted like old leather, fish that suddenly melted into the stew, combined with the mysterious language that most cookbooks adopt.

My favourite example is from a Bengali cookbook that I owned when I first moved to the United States, which tells you, blandly, to wait till the onions have a nice colour. What is a nice colour, I would wonder, watching the onions go from translucent white to a rich golden, a reddish brown, a darker brown and finally a charred black. When should I have stopped?

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