I was an extremely picky eater as a child up to my teens. I wouldn’t eat potatoes, tomatoes, onions or green vegetables. No butter, no eggs (too smelly), no prawns (they looked like worms), no mutton or lamb (I saw a goat being slaughtered on Bakri Eid when I was eight), no crabs (I found out how they were cooked when I was 11. The fisherwoman comes to the door, each vacationing child is given a crab on a string to walk around the building. At lunch time, say bye-bye to your friend whose pincers and tentacles are pulled out before he is dropped into boiling water, alive. WHY WON’T THIS CHILD EAT WHAT’S SERVED ON THE TABLE? ), no chicken on the bone (you could see the blood), no animal organs (my brother squeezed out the blood from liver. “This? This is a kidney. Look, there’s blood. You know what a kidney does, don’t you? It generates su-su”) and no Indian street food (too dirty). For years, there were only two dishes I could order in particular restaurants — pani puri or tomato omelet (only meetha chutney) in Sunshine Snack Bar and sada dosa in Central Cafe. I was on good terms with dals and fruits. My father is vegetarian and we mostly ate that fare at home. Meat was reserved for restaurants and Fridays.
But something magical happened in my late teens and early 20s. I discovered that I enjoyed eating. Food tasted good! My canteen companions were chana masala and pao, misal-pao, schezwan noodle or fried-rice and cheese kulchas. By my 20s, I was a foodie. I had expectations from each meal.
My courtship with the T was also about food. He left a trail of caramel custard crumbs to his heart and re-introduced me to meat. Oh the meat they eat in this house. The freezer’s a morgue. I still can’t eat it every day, but have been re-introduced to eggs and prawns and butter. And, I write about food at work and do not get sick easily. However, I’m still rather picky.
1. I don’t drink tea or coffee. At my mom’s house, my breakfast drink changed with the season — lassi, chickoo milkshake, rose-milk or juice in summer. Masala milk, hot chocolate or thandaai in winter. These days, I rely on soya milk or packaged juice.
2. A fish’s natural habitat is not in gravy; it’s in a pan coated with oil cuddled in a paste of coastal spices. Sometimes, the fish likes to holiday in thick red Mangalorean gravy and then it should be approached with a neer dosa.
3. I have debated the virtues of hot and cold paani-puri and am now on the gol-gappa (cold) side. The perefct ones are filled with boiled moong and kala chana, and not namkeen bundi. In chaat, I prefer to go the Jain way (no potatoes or onions).
4. I have a promiscuous relationship with all kinds of chaat — Jain dahi puri is a preferred working lunch, as is Jain paani puri; lately, I’ve been introduced to chana-jor-garam bhel and I’m ashamed to say things progressed rather quickly to heartburn. One of the only two times I have experienced this.
4b. If I get hospitalized and am put on IV, a friend would slip some paani-puri water into it. I truly believe the water cures all ailments — blocked sinus, constipation, numb taste-buds after fever, cold/cough, broken bones…
5. I like chocolate without nuts and on the darker side.
6. Not that into chocolate cake or ice-cream. I like subtle and surprise combinations of flavours and would rather have a cheesecake or a fruit based dessert.
7. I love fruit sorbets and Amore makes some of the most subtle and refreshing ones — pear, strawberry, jamun, musk-melon. In ice-cream, I’d rather have kulfi or hand-churned all milk ice-cream with fresh fruits.
8. Potatoes are fit for consumption only after deep frying. I liked mashed potatoes for about 3 minutes of my life. I DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR STAND ON THIS.
9. I don’t think I’ll like European food much.
10. I’m mostly likely to order the dish with crunch and contradicting flavours. And what’s berry/banana flavoured and blue.
11. Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. Thepla, thaleepeeth, pudla or paratha with loni (white butter) and chaas is ideal.
12. I love ladyfingers, small brinjals and arbi made the spicy way.
13. Every time I mention that my mother-in-law is Parsi, people gush about the patrani machchi. Sorry, but it SUCKS. YES IT DOES. NO NO, I DON’T WANT TO HEAR IT. WHERE IS THE FUCKING SPICE? NO, YOU SUCK. YOU AND YOUR INFANT TASTEBUDS.
14. I’m not so crazy about dhansak, unless its with kababs. But kolminu patya reconciled me with prawns and salli-par-edu with eggs.
15. Don’t get me started on onions. How can you taste anything after they erupt in your mouth.
16. I don’t cook. Of course, I can cook but it’s like blogging. First I need to call in a meeting with my tongue, my heart and my stomach, shop for ingredients, find recipe (though I should probably do that first), get everyone out of the kitchen, set up a playlist and then find the utensils. Luckily, nobody at home cares for my cooking. And if I’m not going to get an applause, I’m not going to do it.
17. I make up songs for my favourite foods.
18. Samosa pao with cheese is an excellent invention, as is the Nutella sandwich, masala Maggi with cheese spread, coke with lemon juice, tomato jam, mawa samosa, mawa jalebi, guava kulfi, green chilli ice-cream and kolambi pao.
19. I used to be addicted to Coke.
20. Garlic is excellent in everything, including papad.