Food isn’t just nourishment. Food isn’t three times a daily necessity. Food isn’t just needed to live. Food is a culture. Food is a ritual. Food is a passion. Food is happiness for a sulking child. Food is a comfort for someone unwell. Food is family time for a man who worked hard all day. Food is Mother’s love for a son who brought tiffin from home. Food is hope for the poor. Food is a livelihood for the Farmer, for the Milkman, for the Sabjiwala.
For me, food is the Kachori made by my Baba. The one he used to make when I was a little girl. I was hardly 11 when he passed away, but I still remember the taste. The whole ritual when he used to make them on weekends taking one whole morning and I used to hang around him, bobbing with anticipation and asking him every five minutes when he will be done and give me one to eat. Food is the Cheela my Amma used to make every Saturday for me and Papa and I used to take a bite from Papa’s plate calling it Food Tax. Food is the Aloo Parantha I had in Kasauli Hotel, where we made a secret kitchen in an Ante-Room. Food is the Maggie noodles I used to make with my brother and divided into two equal halves and then fought while deciding which plate holds more. Food is the Rabri from Birla Mandir that my uncle brought for me and I would wait for it eagerly every Tuesday. Food is the Coffee I had with my best friend while we worked on paintings, chatting our way through gossips.
I am a true Foodie in every sense. Not because I am experimental with my taste buds or try to taste all world cuisine, neither because good food makes my mouth water or I try to eat as many dishes as I can when I go to a Buffet. I am a foodie because I believe that food is good when memories are made along with it. I am a foodie in true spirit because I believe that breaking of bread with someone connects you to them on a whole different level. Every meal that is memorable and is delicious is less owing to the taste and more to the company.
I had thrice attempted to cook for my loved ones as a child. All attempts my first. First was the time when I made Chapati for my father. It was through kneading dough to rolling it out in a perfect circle and then making it go round on the stove. With a lot of anticipation, I served it on Papa’s plate. He tasted it and went ‘WOW’ not because it was yum, but because he knew it was my first Roti ever made. He kissed me and hugged me.
The second time was when I cooked Kheer for my Nanaji as Naniji had gone to a party and there were no women in the house. I opened my cookbook and attempted my hand at Kheer for him with an intention to surprise him. I measured everything as per the book and added to a vessel. But the rice kept getting dry and I kept adding milk and sugar. Finally, I made a gooey sticky lump I called Kheer and served him. He gave me Rs 500 as a reward for not giving up and told me it was delicious.
My third trial was for my mother when she was unwell. She hadn’t had anything all day and told she was hungry and couldn’t manage to get up as she had her leg in a cast. That day for the first time I made tea and sandwiches for her. I made it with utmost care and served it to her. She ate it with so much contentment and satisfaction that it brought tears to my eyes. She thanked me which made me realise the joy of doing something for someone.
So this is me the Foodie for you. Every food memory I got is not because the taste was great but because the memory was everlasting. Memories that are like the taste buds, Sweet, Sour, Spicy, Salty, Tangy and at time Bitter.