I am standing in front of everybody with my tear glands going to break, my feminine force going to over power my strong decision not to cry. Trying to control my tears, which might at any moment ooze uncontrollably, I was wondering how careless I can be. Its neither the burn that hurts, nor the red rimmed black mark over my lips that might leave people asking “Oh .. what happened to you, BS?” but the awful truth that the seemingly careless BS is still a long way to a mans heart through the culinary skill.
The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Born in a small traditional Indian family of countless cousins and big team of siblings.. large enough to make a cricket team, in Spring valley, I have heard this proverb at a tender age and I knew the importance of cooking. Every day was a celebration at Tharavaadu. I could feel the mixed small of spices and delicious curries Ammachi and aunts used to make not only tickled my taste buds. Being in boarding school from a tender age, art of cooking was always a mystery to me. May be that’s the reason why I was scared of that 7 letter word. When I reached primary school, one of my worst fear was about my poor culinary skills and I was worried what if my man doesn’t like my cooking.. I could imagine a fat and stout man with big mustache tasting my food and throwing it spinning the product of my hard work all over the place…
During the vacation time, I was allotted my share of work in kitchen. I would imagine myself making the typical hot and spicy meat curry with the Kaattirachi my grand pa would have got the previous night. Or I would think myself as a master of all the appam varieties .. my grandma would make like the soft puffy Paalappam, bit hard kallappam, my favourite cake like soft vattayappam, our Indian noodles, idi appam. But every time when I try to help them, I would be told other work like peeling the onion (that the worst and work I have ever done.), washing the plates or cleaning the room (this is rare). Kids were always given the task of ulli polikkification (peeling the onion). Its is not chuvannulli, then it is savaala.. or else veluthulli. It’s a never ending work.. when we are done with one batch of ulli poliking for irachi curry, next will come for thoran, and by the time we are done with that ullies will be ready for mezhukku peratti. And if we try to help the elders after this ulli polikkification, and plate washing, we are considered as total nuisance trying to invade their land. We would be told to go and play. With no option we wold take leave into the coffee plantation or the forest behind till dawn. My holidays will end with my plans shattered but becoming an expert in ulli polikking.
When I came to high school I started trying my hand in exotic cuisines directly, skipping the basic cooking. The only person who never complains about my food is my dad. when he, who finds it difficult to appreciate the best food my mother-the master chef makes, says my food is Good. Its the best appreciation I could get. My brother whom we call poutery farm, who can eat anything endlessly refuses to take what I prepare.. (what an insult). I was considering myself good in cooking when the greatest shock I got. My father got me a cooking book. That was a warning for me to improve my cooking.
The other day I spoke with Uncle J.Kadaplakel (don’t want my aunt to identify this uncle and see my uncle malnutritioned, losing his weight along with his hair, being deprived of F-O-O-D). part of it went like this
Me: hello uncle J?
Uncle J: BS, so what you doing at home?
Me: what else, trying my hand in cooking. The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. u know’
Uncle J: so trying to trap S?
Me: kind of’ *giggle*
Uncle J: even your Aunt tried that. And she is still trying that.. *smile*
Me: did she succeed? *curious smile*
Uncle J: that’s what I said.. she is still trying *hearty laugh* even after 16 years.
Though I know both of them are happy together it’s a warning to all married girls.
Every time I try my hand in culinary skill, I will be left with a memory that will last at least for a week. Mostly it ends up as black marks over my skin. One of the basic and important point when you use cooker is to make sure the vent of the cooker is not closed. One of the best ways is to blow through the weight of the cooker to see it’s not blocked. It works. It works fine every time …when somebody does, but not with me. Today I was trying to make the Erisheri. The vegetables..ie the beans was no cooked well even after two whistles. I thought of keeping it again and I assured the weight is not blocked before replacing it. I remember myself trying to blow through the weight and I heard a sound SsshhHH similar to the sound you hear when you pour water on the big tawa in Thattu kada to make mutta dosa. I was left with a funny mark on my lips. The hot-hot metal had left a goofy mark on my lips.
The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Is it really true? Tell me its not!!!