ALWAYS A FOODIE, THRICE A COOK!

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.

Bon Appetite!

CONFESSIONS OF AN ULTIMATE FOODIE

Have you seen people whose biggest weakness is Food? People who love to eat it all and cannot stop thinking about yummy food. People who eat when they are happy, stressed, upset or angry. People who find an excuse to eat something fancy every Monday because you know otherwise Monday’s are boring, every Wednesday because it is the mid of the week, every Friday because they want to celebrate and Saturday, Sunday because who eats at home on a weekend !!!

Well, if you don’t know any such person then you must meet ME. I am exactly that kind of person who loves to eat. Eats for every occasion and at every occasion. Food is well, meant for survival right? So, we are supposed to eat to stay alive. So, why not make most of it!

As for cooking – I don’t excel at that. Probably because I lose interest in eating when I am so busy cooking it. Be it burgers, pizzas, paneer tikka, subs, pastas – I love it all. Eating good food makes me happy and content. I really overdo at times which is a biggest challenge for me.

During my engineering, when I was staying in a hostel – I was known for liking the food of the mess as well which nobody else liked. Quite often when other girls used to make faces looking at the food, my reaction to the food used to be “Wow, aaj bhindi bani hai! (Wow, today is Ladies Finger)!” Other girls were always very surprised at my reaction. It is not that I used to find the food really yummy, it is just that I like the idea of eating. I have never been very particular about what taste I like or I don’t like. I like almost everything that is vegetarian and is edible.

A person like me has his/her own challenges. Weight gain is an obvious one and with that comes a lot of other complications. I am really bad at controlling my cravings. I have hired dieticians to help me with this and eventually I end up lying to her every now and then (because I want to eat junk and I know she would scold me for it), yet I am ready to pay her a hefty amount month after month as her fees. Sometimes, I really feel like a loser!

Every year I keep the fast of Karwachauth which is apparently the toughest fast in Hindu tradition. It is supposed to be for a long life of my husband. But frankly, I keep Karwachauth for myself (it really has nothing to do with my hubby). It becomes a test of my determination and self-control. To stay more than 15 hours without a drop of water or bite of food is not easy. And I do it year after year because I really want to prove it to myself that I CAN! But it is just a day in the whole year and this kind of fasting isn’t healthy.

I have struggled with dieting since ever. I do not understand how people resist that piece of chocolate or burger or fries. I have never been able to do it. For somebody like me, who struggles with resisting food – it always is a challenge to stay fit. For that I have made a few rules that I try (my best) to follow

  1. Never stop working out
  2. Drink lots of water because that reduces the cravings to a huge extent
  3. Limit junk food to a day in a week
  4. Always have nutrition bars or nuts in my bag for quick bites
  5. Avoid going to restaurants when I want to hang out with your friends
  6. When I have to go for an official outing which probably has a beautiful buffet laid out – I eat something heavy (and nutritious) before going.
  7. I try to plan my meals ahead of the day
  8. I eat really slowly so that I give enough time to my tummy to signal me when I am full.

In spite of doing all this, there are times (a lot of times) when I just give in to the temptation. Foodies like me have a great challenge ahead of them. It is not easy to reduce those tyres that form around your waist as a result of eating those yummy fries and burgers and pastas.

It is always a balancing act. One of my friends say, what is the point of working so hard when you cannot even eat what you fancy. I agree with him but at the same time I don’t want to be obese who spends a large part of her money and time in hospital getting treated for obesity related issues.

By the way, I am typing out this blog sitting in a Mcdonalds – trying out their new “Chatpata aloo naan” with Fries and Iced tea (sounds yummy, isn’t it)! Ha, I told you – food is my weakness!

Well, to all of you foodies out there – I hope you can relate to what I have written here. Don’t beat yourself up. Just make reasonable goals and take one step at a time. Being an ultimate foodie isn’t bad but it has its own consequences. So always try your best to balance and stay true to yourself.

MEMORIES OF A TASTE BUD

food-878445_1280What is the tastiest food you have ever eaten? Well, I certainly can’t forget some dishes. They made an unforgettable mark on my taste buds. It’s not that I start salivating when I think about them, but I certainly remember them with a certain fondness. They say best things in life are unexpected and so it happened with me.

LUNCH IN SONADA:

I was travelling to Darjeeling with my parents in the year 2002. We got down at Sonada which is about 20 kilometers from the famous hill station. Dad knew a few people at the novitiate there so we tagged along with him. The novitiate was located on a hill slope. A thin veil of fog covered the basketball court outside.  It was afternoon and yet there was no sign of the sun. We were hungry and one of the Salesian fathers led us to their cafeteria.

The beef I ate there was out of this world. Soft and succulent, my taste buds relished every piece of it before swallowing. I don’t know how they prepared it. It wasn’t spicy (which is the way I like) but it had an incredible taste. It wasn’t fried as much as I can remember. I have asked mom to prepare beef in that particular fashion but she never perfected it although once she came fairly close. May be it is something to do with the altitude of Sonada and the air pressure there.

DINNER AT A PUB IN SALUGARA:

It was my friend’s birthday. We went to this small pub in the northern edges of my home town. I was not sure what to expect in that place. The waiter, a young Nepali boy served us plates of “chilly pork”. I am not a big fan of pork. Although, in my childhood days I used to have plenty of it at my aunt’s place. It usually contains lot of fat and I had grown out of it eventually. This preparation seemed different. They had removed the extra fat and the garnishing of onions along with the spices made it yummy. It was better than any chilly chicken I had eaten before. I have not eaten much pork after that except for pepperoni on countable number of occasions. That has been the tastiest pork yet.

HOT GULAB-JAMUNS:

I was with my parents again as we strolled through the crowded Hill-cart road. The Durga Puja celebrations were in full flow. The drums were beating loudly from the various pandals. The strips of decorative lightings hung over the roads and the bamboo structure with lighting patterns marked the edges of the small streets leading to another pandal.  The festive atmosphere kept everyone in high spirits.

 After a long walk we stopped for dinner. I can’t recollect what we had in the main course, but I certainly remember the dessert. The medium sized gulab-jamun took the tongue by surprise with its amount of warmth.  It was delicious and the taste spread as it gradually melted in my mouth. I took another piece and it certainly felt heavenly. Even mom and dad liked it a lot. From then on I have always preferred hot gulab-jamuns.

Enjoy your food and cherish the foodie memories. Like they say, “best things in life are unexpected” and sometimes you will find out that the best food in life is unexpected too.

Peter Minj