Yummy for some, bizarre for few

Yummy for some, bizarre for few

Every person is entitled to have her/his personal likes and dislikes – be it other persons, dishes, clothing items, cities or scents, as the case may be, or even drinking water for that matter. Yes, drinking water.

Every person is entitled to have her/his personal likes and dislikes – be it other persons, dishes, clothing items, cities or scents, as the case may be, or even drinking water for that matter. Yes, drinking water.

We have a help at home. He recently got married and had a child in quick succession. He persuaded his wife to come with him to live at our place. Being a village belle, she came attired in traditional Indian sari with her head covered. My wife gave her a ‘daughterly’ treatment. The child, all of three months, used to loll around on our bed.

As an elderly couple, we had a selfish motive in making the family an integral part of our own. Our only surviving son was settled abroad and we had no one to depend on. The girl used to remain confined to her room on the first floor. Even the food had to be carried to her thereby her husband. After a couple of days, she declared that she wanted to go back to the village. When asked to give a reason, she said that she did not relish the RO water available at home. There was no alternative because the water provided by the local authorities was very sour. So the help, after dilly-dallying for a few days, had to willy-nilly take her back to the village.

When it comes to savories, idli, dosa and samosa are enjoyed across the length and breadth of our country as well as abroad. As a matter of fact, a dog with my elder brother was very fond of idlis. However, it is not so with some other dishes such as sweet pigeon peas curry (aamti) of Maharashtra and similar salt and sugar mixed dishes of Gujarat.

Some of the South Indian dishes are so hot that instead of your mouth, your eyes water just by looking at them. It is reputed that the people of the Guntur district in Andhra Pradesh, where red pepper is grown aplenty, carry a tin of red pepper with them whenever they travel outside. They are not sure that the food served to them elsewhere will be hot enough.

Then there is the humble tuber called elephant foot yam (jimmikand), so called because in appearance it is quite ugly and looks very much like an elephant foot; nothing like tomato, potato, bottle gourd, cabbage, cauliflower, pumpkin, spinach and so forth. It is in fact quite a nutritious vegetable containing sodium potassium, calcium, iron et cetera. It is supposed to be good for treatment of diabetes, liver ailments, obesity et cetera.

Despite its ungainly appearance, it is amenable to many yummy dishes including cutlets; yam pepper fry; yam, paneer and green peas salad; yam fingers and curry et cetera. The most exotic among them is the yam chutney, popular in the state of Bihar in India.

Once I was posted to an institution where one of my colleagues, who was a bachelor, was a great cook and a connoisseur of food items, especially Chinese dishes. Once, my wife invited him for dinner. One of the items served to him was the yam chutney which he had not tasted earlier. He took a spoonful and put it in his mouth. He liked the taste very much and asked my wife for the recipe. The moment my wife mentioned yam, he immediately and unceremoniously spit it out and rushed to the bathroom to rinse his mouth. And that was the end of the sumptuous dinner that day. Thereafter, he always made it a point to ask for the recipe before tasting a new dish at our place.

It reminded me of a couple of other episodes of a similar nature. At a dinner party in the open lawns of friend we were sitting in chairs arranged in a circular manner. While snacks were being served I picked up a mutton cutlet. The gentleman sitting next to me on my left, assuming that I was a vegetarian, picked one up himself. When he took a bite, he found the taste to be unusual. He asked me as to what it was. When I told him the name of the dish, he bashfully spit out the portion in his mouth, while dropping the rest of the cutlet next to his chair on the lawns.

One of my relatives on his visit to our place was served a soufflé which of course contained some egg white. He liked it and avariciously consumed it. He wanted the recipe so that he could ask his wife to make it at home. When my wife mentioned egg, the expression on his face was seen to be believed. But there was nothing he could do about it.

(Writer is Former |Secretary-General, Rajya Sabha)

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