My experiments with gluten

Rudrarpan Chatterjee MD, DM
Assistant Professor, Department of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology, SGPGIMS, Lucknow

Given the opportunity of a career beyond medicine, I would have liked to lead the Indian swimming contingent for the freestyle relay at the Olympics. However, having developed the swimming talents and nous of a panda during my formative years, and having watched Michael Phelps and Nigella Lawson in equal measure, I veered towards the latter with sharp instincts for the kitchen. To compensate for this abrupt volte-face, I made it a particular point to try and excel in the domain that requires the most discipline, that of baking. Much like medicine, baking requires precision. You must be accurate in your measurements and build up a recipe step by step, much like a well-constructed differential diagnosis. And just like medicine, there is also an art to it. The most precisely baked apple pie may not appeal to a person who has grown up with fond memories of shahi tukda for dessert, just as our excitement for a rare immunological diagnosis may not enthuse a patient who just wants to feel a little better. Fifteen years into it, I still make the occasional absolute mess of a simple vanilla sponge cake, the most basic recipe you learn when you start off. This keeps you humble, and teaches you to maintain the rigour of the process no matter how simple it might seem or how accustomed you are to it. In most of life’s natural phenomena, reversion to the mean is the norm. In baking as well as in medicine, we aspire to be as precise as possible, so that any variation in our methods does not take us far enough away such that the reversion is catastrophic.