Monday, September 26, 2005

On Food and People

It's great news. Finally, people are looking up, contributions are pouring in, and it adds to my vanity.  My home-made recipe section has been recieved well. My friends have been equally encouraging through their contributions. Their personal interaction with the kitchen has been a big boost to their culinary skills.

Some of us take food for granted while simply insisting that it should be "just the way I like it". Food has a peculiar quality about it, and so does the ubiquitous coffee. Stewart Lee Allen takes you through this fantastic travels unravelling the mystery about Coffee and its history. (I'll deal with Lee Allen later; I'm halfway through his book).

Food can bring people together or totally drive them apart. My circle of friends are shameless foodies, and that suits me just fine. So lunchtime is an extravagant affair, with each sharing her spoils that the poor harrowed mom whipped up, or you had to force yourself to cook. Either way, it is a serious and solemn affair, abound with pecularities like this one about my friend who is very particular about the order in which she consumes her food.

Her lunchbasket has three containers each arranged on top of the other. One contains rice, the other has some high protein vegetable and the third container has some gravy dish,which is also high protein or fibrous. She mixes the rice with the gravy dish, and the vegetable serves as an accompaniment to the main course. In between all this, the lunch table buzzes with topics which range from the Jockey sale to metrosexual men and a wide variety of other vague topics; by which time, my friend has successfully coursed through her food and is ready to seal her meal with a bowl of thick curds. For that extra punch, she adds(to the curds, of course) either pickles, or a little bit of her veggies that she had saved up from her lunch, or potato chip crumbs sprinkled with chilli powder. Lunch break is also the best place to make a note of the recipes that you would like to take home with you, or like me, simply blog it. 

There are so many varieties of food: the home made variety which is the Superstar; hostel food which is the exact opposite; the mother-in-law's food, grudgingly made (kidding); or your very own food, cooked out of sheer compulsion. There is a famous saying that a good or bad meal is reflective of the attitude with which it was cooked by the host. On that note, one can safely say that hostel food is by far the worst. Let's be fair. You cannot simply blame the cook. The poor man has to afterall cook for some 100 odd souls toiling in all that smoke and grease. Moral of this story, wholesale cooking comes at a price; atleast that's the case with hostel acomodations. It does wonders to your skin and to your overall health. You end up with a lot of patches on your skin combined with a body that will give the scarecrow a run for its money. Now, dats what I call health conscious cooking....

Marriage occupies a different category under this type of cooking. With marriage, you have an unaccounted number. It just makes it worse. The category swings between a good tiffin, an okay lunch and a decent dinner. With some people, good is never enough. It is best to leave these set of people to their own devices. The high note in any wedding is the menu that is served and how well it was served (customer service). Inspite of the warm welcome and generous doting by the host, one tends to remember more about the delectable menu or the lack of it. If the service is not good, that leaves another black spot, of which you make a mental note; a mental note not to ever employ these caterers for any function at your house or make sure that the host is aware of it, so that he has a better bargaining power.

Need we say anything about the in-laws, they are more like the outsider who has barged into your personal KITCHEN space and throwing orders at you! The cooking style varies. A tug of war ensues. The battlefield is set: Mom-in-law, daughter-in-law and the hubbie! In the end, the meal is served amidst a platter of complaints.

The last category applies to those singles where survival is key. Cook sumthing so that your bones can hold up until EOD(End of Day). This is more like "compassionate cooking" (You take pity on your body and feed it with whatever the thinly stocked fridge affords) rather than "cooking with a passion".

A well cooked meal is good. A passionately cooked meal is better. A good meal is good, and a bad meal is bad! (From, "The Devil's Cup; Used on a completely different note). A good meal brings people together and a bad meal ends in a divorce. A good meal indicates that the host's mind is pure. Bad meals lead to aggression and a volley of curses. If people ask you for recipes, you know you are on the right track.

But you can never be sure. One might ask for a recipe and hope never to whip it up.

If you want to learn more about people, start at the dining table. You want to bring people together and pep up the place, serve a great meal. You want to let someone know that they are not in your good books, serve up the Last Supper.

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