Last month I happened to travel a lot with family. While driving all the way from Mangalore to Coimbatore via parts of Kerala we stopped for breakfast at a small restaurant at Udupi. I ordered a ghee rost, like every other time because I love how its served.. Golden, crispy, oily cone with two chutneys and sambar. The smell itself is soooo intoxicating! But as I was eating it, I realized that it just dint taste that good. The sambar was watery, it had coconut in it and there was just one chutney. Coconut. Coconut and I do not get along well you see.. Bad breakfasts lead to a bad day. I knew then. Food changes our outlook. It affects our mood. It makes us happy, sad or mad. Food is magic.
Food means a lot to me, and it is pretty evident! It is associated with many memories good, bad and weird.
The very first time I had a pizza, I thought my hands smelled funny! The last time I had fish was the first time I had to be rushed to a doctor to remove the bone stuck in my throat! I gave up chicken believing I would get chicken pox if I had them! Well that was a good decision; I saved many a chickens life if not a patient’s! :D
My love for food started in school. So many tiffin boxes, all with different types of snacks and hungry us.
School life was all the more memorable with “pepsi”ice, and Kucchi ice, which were priced at 2 rupees and 5 rupees! There was one time when the kucchi ice had a small worm in it. I saw it as soon as I removed the cover and cried a lot! I wouldn’t get 5 rupees for another week! I dint give up on kucchi ice! Never will.
It was in school that I betrayed maggi. I was loyal to maggi, all throughout high school, until my friend had top ramen in her lunch box. We were in 11th standard!!. That day we were sent out of class for not completing our physics record. I pledged alliance to top ramen that day as I stood outside the class! Who really cared about physics record?
A few evenings after school, I would walk to my friend’s place and have real hot aloo bondas her mom made with a glass of boost, ignoring the world including her dog beta who would bark his head off. Not just coconuts, I don’t get along well with her dog either.
Then came college. It was the work of stars that I found friends who were foodies, all except one! :D We bonded over the pathetic hostel food. Aloo bonda came back into my life as that was the only tea time snack we would flick from the mess hall. We got a little bolder and started ordering food from nearby restaurants. This was all behind the wardens back. We would plan days ahead…the food we wanted, who would order, which number would we give, the name we would use.. And then come up with a plan to sneek the food into the hostel without the warden’s knowledge. It was our own version of Mission impossible minus The Tom Cruise!! Feasting on that food was our sorgavaasal!
And I also happened to have this wonderful roomie in the first year....we would have picnics in our room with packets of oily chips, bread, Nutella, ceralac and pointless discussions. The recurring topic of discussion would mostly be “how to lose weight!!”, as we kept stalking people on orkut :D
The food court opened when we started our second year. Every evening we pooled our resources and ended up with a single dosai or one glass of juice split 4 ways! Birthdays were spent at budget hotels with good food. At once such “food craving” outing, we were left with hardly any money to get back to coll and ended up begging and fighting on the roads of Adayar! Adayar has been my favorite place ever since.
We attended conferences after discussing in detail if the travelling expenses and time wasted at the seminar was worth the food being served at the venue. We would mostly end up going; because good food is worth any trouble.
During internship, food became all the more special. We ditched the food courts and started patronizing the D block canteen right in the middle of the hospital. We would demand for the coffee to be strong, less milk, high on sugar without aadai! :D That was heaven in a tiny paper cup. During the night duties, we would set out to the dosai kadai, or karai kudi chettinad. Two roadside eateries that fed us and kept us happy. We had the opportunity to have candle light dinner at the fried rice kadai every time they were out of power. Candle supported by a Miranda bottle. The most romantic dinner my group of 6 interns ever had!
There were times in the hostel when one vessel of plain white rice, homemade sambar, with garlic thokku and chips made with a loot of love and care would make its appearance every time my friend’s mom (Jessie bhavan’s ownwer!) came to visit her. That food would feed about 10 to 12 of us .when you are away from home, and you get home cooked food life looks a lot better and filled with love.
Food, has always been something special. It fosters friendships, ends arguments, promotes sharing and just makes us a better person. It engages all our senses and makes memories that come back later in life. Even now, when I look at aloo bonda I’m reminded of my friend from school, her mom their terrace and for some annoying reason her dog!
P.S: I’m on the look out for Amudhasurabi as a gift for Jessie Bhavan’s owner. It’s supposed to be a vessel from which we get endless supply of food. If you have not heard of it, never mind. I have probably been fooled to believe its existence.
Give food. Spread love.