Sunday, October 26, 2008

Contradiction curry

Its festival time in India - we just lived through Dassera and Diwali is round the corner. A huge cultural value i hold (as do most Indians, i think) is "festival = food". So keeping in line with the festival spirit, we decided to have friends over for lunch today. And NOT keeping in line with the festival spirit, I have decided to cook for everyone. I have ACTUALLY decided a menu that can be cooked with the limited culinary skills i have. And i have the next 4 hours, 48 minutes and 5 seconds to accomplish this.

Now let me explain the ridiculousness of this situation. i live with my mother-in-law who is a fabulous cook. I have a helper in the house who cooks snacks for 100 odd kids @ my learning centre through the week. And today when I have 15 people coming over, I decided to make things that both these talented women do not make! It is something that only I can make. This fully knowing that:
1) my friends love my mom-in-law's cooking
2) cooking as an activity completely stresses me out

I still have to get a ladle on this - why does cooking stress me out some much? Well, since a whole bunch of things can be conveniently blamed on early childhood & parents in general, here's my explanation: My mom is great cook. And when i say great - i mean really really GREAT! She could whip up delicacies in minutes with least prep time. She would actually remember what our individual friends liked and then accordingly cook when they visited (in a family of three children with many hungry friends - that's no mean feat). It almost seemed as if she was in direct competition with all the restaurants and the famous Bombay street food vendors. Now maybe that has set up this 'impossible-to-attain' standard in my head. To make things worse, my siblings seem to be quite comfortable in the kitchen and discuss recipes like i discuss comic strips. So that's another source of added pressure.

Also, a part of me feels that there is a unstated rule in our societal psyche : "woman = good cook". So for someone with limited skills like me (and great chefs in the family), this is again a huge obstacle to cross.

So with all this 'खिचडी' cooking in my head - why on earth did i set up this situation today???? why? why? why? But this is not the most absurd event in my life. What is even more preposterous is - when i think of what i would have been doing in life had I not been working with children - the ONLY answer that comes up is running a cafe that serves Indian short-eats. A place which is a happy hangout for people. where everything on the menu costs Rs. 10. And everything is made by me. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!!!!! No matter how hard i try, i can't seem to get this fantasy off my head. Why? Why? Why?

So this Sunday morning, as i need to get ready to cook food for the 15 friends (who i must say are taking a bigger risk than me), i am obviously stalling for time cooking up questions to see how i still got myself into this soup. And can see myself walking on egg-shells. Gosh! My goose is cooked!

and since i have also run out of the self-imposed 500-word blog limit (and all food related cliches), there is nothing much left to do but to get myself into the kitchen and start. Which reminds me, i yet have to buy some the most critical ingredients for my recipes. why? why? why?

PS Coming to think of food cliches - why on earth would something easy be called "like a piece of cake"?


Neelakantan said...

Piece of cake, probably refers to eating, not the baking part :) My 2 rupees :)

Anonymous said...

Funny funny funny :) So how was the cooking event? I am sure you pulled it off! :)

Anonymous said...

Except your mom everyone else talks more about cooking than actually cook. To make you feel better here are some tidbits-

Cook: I won't be coming for a month.
Srth: Mom what are we going to eat then?

Another day there were some guests coming, the cook had already cooked some items. I decide to cook dal.
Srth: Mom, lets look for the receipe in the book.

Have Fun with your friends and like I always say people come to enjoy your company. food is always secondary:))) there is always take out.