Sunday, March 27, 2011

Food of love

To have survived a world that is fast becoming quite terrifying is a miraculous feat. To have survived it without emerging a psycho a la Norman Bates or complete idiots like Harry and Lloyd is even more so. But the greatest surprise is that we have not only survived but also emerged determinedly rotund from a century obsessed with lines and angles- a tribute to the tenacity of human will and adipose.Our parents-bless them-may or may not have had a hand in this; but it goes without saying that they had a lot of help in this endeavor. It is my personal theory that zealous aunties and uncles are responsible for ninety percent of all failed diets or weight-loss programs. While aunties and uncles may be gently dissuaded from expressing their love food-wise, parents are a whole other story.Our alarming horizontal growth should have restrained our progenitors from expressing their love through culinary means, however they most often continue to pile our plates high with fragrant, delicious, ultimately fattening, love.

Apparently I was born skinny, but a couple of weeks later my mother was reeling under the weight of giant baby. While this aught to have warned my poor parents of large issues in the future, their love continued to make it's way down my gullet and I never complained. The pattern continues in my twenty-third year where a two week stint in home-ground leaves me trundling around with a couple of extra tyres. The airways would have charged me for excess baggage if it weren't for the fact that it was a personal attachment. If it isn't my mother who is an officially recognised gastronomical goddess, it is my fabulous father who is convinced I am starving myself in the food-heaven of Hyderabad. Day one saw biriyani, brownies, cookies, lace-like dosas, pure coconut chutney (untainted by disgusting gram-flour augmentations) and strawberries as a vain bid at healthiness. Day two went on the lines of cloud-like idlis with fiery onion chammandi, shawarma, kerala fish curry and rice and a nameless pudding that soared past yummy into the higher realms of palato-nirvana, . The next sixteen days that followed continued to test of the tensile strength of the human stomach(pasta, appams, turkey, cookies, chicken-tikka and cheesecake being the tip of the giant iceberg). Needless to say given a high enough incline I could have rolled all the way back.

As I huff my way up the stairs to my humble hostel room, I wonder what it is that brings out the culinary excess in our loved ones. The pain of leaving behind your family is reinforced with the knowledge that you leave behind all those delicious leftovers only to return to the"dreary desert sands of dread habit" and mess mush. Ah parting is such sweet sorrow: literally- given that I was treated to chocolate donuts the evening I left. As I munch on my mothers lovingly parceled brownies, I realise that it is in these bitter-chocolate moments that we return to our childhood. We are once again that five-year old who demanded dosas and chutney or drooled over cake that turned into cookies enroute or went gaga over pasta smothered with mozarella. And I suppose that's why they feed us silly:
In the face of our alien adult-hood, food becomes the only medium by which our parents can bring their child back as a child. And as you indulge in gluttony, heedless to the streak of tomato sauce smeared across your cheek, you experience time-travel in the simplest way: You are as you were once upon a time; fresh pristine and happily content in the firm belief that you are loved. And the reconfirmations of this belief makes its way all through your being with every home-made morsel that you intake giving you the courage to drink life to the lees- calories be damned.

To misquote the evergreen Forrest Gump - Life is like a box of chocolates: it'll make you horrifically fat and probably terribly unattractive but you'll be happy at the end. :)

Ps: And of course this was all just an elaborate ruse to justify my gluttony :P