I have a nickname…..I’m called ‘Annapurna devi’ . this was given to me by a few souls who’ve never been turned away with hungry stomachs from my door. a son (just a few years younger than i) has adopted me as his mother simply because i feed him….with that kind of a reputation, the flip side is that no one ever believes me when I declare a kitchen holiday or for that matter when I say “there’s nothing to eat” …… I don’t know how I got into this……so I’ve thought that Escapades will serve as my journal…..i shall record all that I attempt in the kitchen…..and otherwise as well
I began cooking 3 years ago post marriage…till then I was as most daughters are, just the exotic kitchen helper….….i’d be called upon to set the dinner table, make the salad, make dessert at the maximum….the few occasions I did cook, it was after being suitably inspired by a cookery show on TV….i still remember my brother asking me to first feed the cat with the macaroni and cheese that I attempted and declared he would eat it only after 30 mins of observation!! I come from a family of foodies……brother included…..whole conversations revolve around food and the menu for the next meal is decided while the current one is being polished off!! my mother and aunt (peddi) were exceptional cooks…..alas we only realize when it is too late……..post marriage I appreciated fully, the dedication and relentless patience it requires to put food on the table, day after day for almost half a century……that too food that is tasty, wholesome and unforgettable. My most vivid memories are ones spent around the dining table…….i remember Christmas lunches with as many as 50 people, happily cooked by mother – peddi combo over open wood fires in our backyard…..for years Christmas day was an open house and people would be teeming over…..birthday’s had a special significance because there would be no birthday cake….just great food….and yet I didn’t think of them as ‘parties’ (which for some reason i assumed had to have strobe lights and music!!)……all this with no ‘servant’ to help…the only servants they had was my brother and i…..he’d take care of the ‘outside’ work of buying the meat and other things and I’d take care of the ‘inside’ work…taking out the plates and glasses (never thought of it as crockery), spoons, make sure there’s ice in the fridge….make the salad, desert maybe… and help clear up…..ironically the first thing I attempted to make was roti…..mom and peddi were so adept at this intricate make dough, roll out round, flat and thin, bake on a hot tava till they puffed up…that I never thought it as difficult…only now post marriage after a very observant comment by K of “you are very comfortable in the kitchen” have I realized why all this came naturally to me…..nature Vs nurture…here I come!!
All thru the honeymoon months of marriage, cooking served as an extension of playing ‘house-house’……poor K has been subjected to baffling tears, shed by yours truly just because he hadn’t appreciated my food……he just couldn’t get it…I’d nag him to the extent that he’d choke on the food and his only answer would be that I should know he was enjoying the food because he was eating so much of it….i’d say I wasn’t sure if it was hunger or taste…… for while thereafter, it became a chore I loathed…..a bout of illness during which I still had to drag myself to the kitchen (I must mention that K is severely challenged in the kitchen….maggi is all he can rustle up….not even tea and instant coffee….) prompted me to get a cook….suguna was a gem, she loved cooking as much as she doted on K, she even scolded me for depriving K of meat since i had given it up and happily volunteered to buy and cook it for K….alas we bought an apartment and moved far away within a few months and we lost her…….the new house brought a new found enthusiasm for cooking in a brand new kitchen…..i loved playing ‘House – Round II’ ….. then the fatigue of new age career advancement just hit me and hard…the new house meant more time spent traveling to and from work….less time to eat (breakfast en route to work at signals) and being too tired to eat….forget cooking…… the weekends would be a treat…of traditional south Indian spread…(I’d turned vegetarian by now) and I would look forward to spending time in my kitchen……then came the sabbatical….i chucked it all up to ‘find’ myself …….around this time, I started obsessing about food blogs…..i’d spend hours on them….reading sometimes opening them in 8 windows at a time ….marveling at what was being created….realizing that I wasn’t alone in my love for comforting home cooked food….(mind you there aren’t too many eating joints in Hyderabad that K and I haven’t tried….we were “road inspectors” all thru our courting years!) ….i tried a few recipes….just drooled all over the computer keys mostly and wondered if I could be there someday…..food bloggers just don’t know what they have managed to do….they have taken one of the most primal needs of man and cultivated it into a fine art…..there were days when I’d be reading food blogs from daybreak to daybreak….and I loved it…..
Food is such a perfect reflection of us…..our state of mind ….. one can tell what the family is going through simply by the food on the table, or for that matter stocked in the cupboards or fridge…..for instance, I for one who wondered what variety if at all any vegetarians would have shocked myself with and have continued to marvel at life beyond it….it changed my perception of many things….of culture, lifestyle, habit…today I understand all this so much better….i can appreciate honestly with no malice………………this then, publishing of Escapades, is something very personal that I am indulging in….it is here that I will talk to myself and anyone else who makes it thru these pages…..