Sunday, April 26, 2009

Do you want to take food as pills ?

Have you ever wondered why food is still not consumed as pills or tablets as shown in numerous sci-fi movies from the 70s ? Because I want a potato to smell like one, feel like one and taste like one and so do millions of other people !

''pasi konda neram thalikum osai sandhosha sangeedham'' - crudely translated, it means when you are hungry the sound of cooking is music ! Yes, I believe food caters to all the five senses and if someone tells me food is just fuel....oh dear God.....i wouldn't even know where to start.

Before I go ahead, let me deal with the well known argument that this is not applicable when you talk abt starvation and famine...true but the same can be said of clothes....for those who have nothing, any leaves or rags would do, so why is everyone talking about fashion and why is it a multi-billion dollar industry? So, for those used to regular meals, Food is not or cannot be just fuel !

Have you ever wondered why its called the art of cooking ? A good cook can make food appetizing at so many levels and when I think ''good cook'', I think ''amma'' (mom).....!! On any festive day, when I come out of the shower the first thing I smell is ''ghee'' (clarified butter) and its amazing how I feel hungry at once and as I wait I hear the frying of cashew nuts, the pounding of cardomom, the hunger slowly builds. And finally, my mom comes out of the kitchen with a spoon fully of glistening-with-ghee chakkara pongal and asks me to taste it. I simply cant find words in the english language to express the feeling I get when I eat the pongal off the spoon (wiping it clean) in one gulp and chew it slowly (since its still hot) and finally when all the saliva has finally settled down I tell amma ''that was amazing'' !!

Growing up in India, where food is an integral part of everything we do, one simply cant (or atleast I cant) think of food as fuel....and am not simply talking about a festival, a wedding, a b'day....as long as more than 3 people meet at a place, there is food and lots of it and its absolutely delicious !!

Food can be
- a wonderful conversation/relationship starter: its how neighbours become friendly with the first samosas or bhajjis
- a way to feel at home: i cant keep count of friends who have come home for amma's vatha kozhambu !
- an excuse to go to the temple: I used to religiously (actually shamelessly :D) visit the temple for Shankatahara Chathurthi just for the kozhakattai !!
- the way to a man's heart :)...ok that was a little dramatic, but trust me, there are ways to do that too :D

There is probably one other point I should clarify for those who are not totally familiar with the indian cuisine. There is a common myth, I reiterate - MYTH, that Indian food is hot. Indian food is not hot, it is spicy and that makes a huge difference. Most restaurants outside India offer food with peppers as the main spice either due to lack of all the needed spices or to cater to the local crowds who are not used to spicy food.

Another argument against food is fuel would be the whole concept of garnishing - Gourmet Chefs and restaurants spend so much time and money in making food as appealing as possible not just to serve the taste buds but also to let the people feast their eyes on it !

How many times have you looked at an icecream ad on the television where they show you huge balls of icecream in different flavours with chocolate syrup poured on it and felt like having one and actually have done so ?? Icecreams, chocolates and many other scrumptious (albeit not so healthy) items wouldn't simply exist if we were satisifed with just our nutrition requirements of the day being appeased with the 4 basic food groups !

I could go on writing and explaining with scores of other examples but I have to take a break now and although I am not hungry, I want to have a snack since all this talk about food has been just too appetizing....oh...well...I rest my case !
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