28 April 2017

What exactly is the "mothers love" part of home cooked food?

One of my seniors in college always loved saying (whenever we were at a restaurant) that mother's food is always the best food because it is sprinkled with a necessary ingredient: Love.

I mentioned the same thing to a pragmatic uncle of mine, and his immediate response was "Bull***t!" :-)
At least he wasn't of the opinion that the taste of food comes from an emotion.

So what exactly is the "mothers love in home-cooked food" or to ask it differently, what makes home cooked food more healthy? What makes outside food bad?

Outside food answers you are familiar with:
  • Artificial ingredients
  • Too many spices
  • Reused oil

But that's not all. There are some things you've never noticed because your stomach was either resilient enough to handle it or you just didn't know:
  • The food was not cooked fully (many cooks aren't really cooks. They were just looking for a job and someone taught them the basics and they have too many customers to serve. Who has the time to cook food fully?)
  • The food has burnt particles in it (I know there are a lot of silly people who have told you that the black portions of rotis and parathas are ok. They are not)
  • The ingredients used were of low quality
  • The food contains H Pylori. Causes horribly painful stomach aches.

So the "Love" in the food is...

The love is the care with which the food is cooked. Not every mother can do that though. Many of them hate being in the kitchen and many aren't very knowledgeable about cooking. But the more access to knowledge the mother or father or any family member has, the better their cooking will be and the more healthy it will be for you.
There's one other thing: Certain foods get associated with memories of one's mother or family. For example, there are friends of mine who love Ragi Mudde (plenty of childhood memories associated with it). Others can't even stand the taste of it.

If you don't have access to healthy home cooked food, buy a stove (even if it's an electric induction stove) and learn to cook your own food. Trust me, it'll be entirely worth it. If you live in a place that does not allow you to cook, then leave that place and find a place where you can cook.
Invest in your health and you will reap benefits. Ignore the food part of health and every other part of your body will suffer.

ps: On a side note, if you've heard of people saying that eating with the fingers is tastier than eating with a spoon but were never able to explain why; I have the answer for you. I asked this question on skeptics.stackexchange.com and here's the answer:

There is scientific research which says that touching (tactile sensations) itself, not just the changes in the diffusion of taste and odor compounds with different textures, can adjust the perception of taste and smell. The studies don't specifically say that the taste is always improved, but tactile sensations affect the perceived taste.