Notes from this lockdown:
- Tinda should not be cooked for guests for too-much-chopping reasons.
- Eating rajma is more fun than making it.
- I had never made toru ki sabzi before the lockdown
- Cooking for one is easy, eating alone is not.
- If kitchens had third world problems, ants would top them. At least until you learn to clean vigorously, every night.
- My mother makes garam masala at home.
- Baking your own bread is an underrated personal victory.
- The most important meal is the one after which you have to do the dishes.
- Be grateful for finding avocados, but mostly for having three full meals every day.
Do we now appreciate the smaller things more? Meeting a friend, going for a walk and feeling the breeze on our faces, hugging people, breathing without the now-familiar scent of a sanitizer in the air? Will we simply fall back to our ways of being reckless with moments that are gifted to us?
I have been thinking a lot about the hands that have nourished us and continue to nurture us. Goya Journal, this year for their anniversary, asked people to share pictures of hands that have fed them over the years. It was strangely insightful and obviously heart-warming. I moved back home due to the uncertainty of this time and I happily fell back into the routine of being fed by my mother. Once again, I was asked if I was ready to eat breakfast the moment I woke up, what I wanted to eat for lunch, if bhindi was okay for dinner.
It took a global halt to make me realise how futile my experience with cooking could become. The noise of relatives praising my stuffed bell peppers and cream of broccoli soup was overpowered by my incompetence in feeding myself on some days. I knew how to cook everything; dal, chawal, roti, sabzi; but my routine had never required me to worry about preparing all my meals.
I made sushi one day, it tasted great but I failed terribly at rolling it. The first time I tried to replicate my mother’s chole bhature, I did pretty well. My brain worked with the memory of its taste, my hands knew the recipe without ever having made it. Meals that nourish us, remain with us.
Food, food, food. Sometimes I wonder how our lives can be so consumed by food and yet so distanced from what it means to us. What does food mean to you?
Unsolicited advice: Homemade pizza is always a hit. Thai Mango Sticky Rice is the perfect no-bake dessert to make. Make lots of pesto. Always keep tomatoes in the fridge.
My love for cooking only happened because my mother initiated me into the kitchen early in life. She wanted me to have the skill so I wouldn’t have to face the same problems she did after marriage. Is my love for cooking only present because of one gender’s lack of it?
There is something to be said about the food that is made to nourish you, meals that are cooked with you in mind, dinners that are kept warm for you, breakfasts that are served to you. It is a special thing, perhaps one of the most special experiences in life, to have somebody who commits themselves to feed you every single day.
Food is memory, undiscovered. It is the future craving and also the current habit. To be honest, one of the greatest inventions of mankind is the refrigerator. It is all the light I sometimes need in my life.
Food, food, food. What have you been eating? When was the last time you ate a fruit? Did you learn how to cook? Have you eaten dinner? How fast can you chop onions now?
Another day, another meal. I hope it’s not lauki.
May the food be with you.