November 11, 2009

RS, the foodie.

A couple of weeks ago, I was in p~'s place and we were all discussing k's insatiable appetite for baked garlic breads. That led to discussions about everyone's favorite foods and p~ said, "But RS, you don't love food like we do!"

And that is true. I don't love food like k's dad for instance or even k. His eyes light up and this huge smile spreads across his face when he discovers that a favorite food awaits him on the dining table. He'll smack his fingers and inhale the rich aroma from the food and let everyone know that he is happy. The way to a man's heart is...and all that.

I, on the other hand, do not make a big deal of it. If I like it, I eat it with relish. If someone else cooked the food, I tell them I liked it and then get on with it. If I don't like it, I serve myself less of that food or avoid it (in the case of green peas). And then food is forgotten and I am thinking about the next 58 items that I need to do before calling it a day.

But, there are a few dishes (not the American "dishes" -- pots and pans, the Indian ones) that I enjoy eating. I look forward to eating them and when I do eat them, it is slowly (unlike my mom who is a very fast eater speeding up even more if she finds the food tasty), savoring every mouthful, every bite, pleasing all senses -- my tongue lazily rolling the food in my mouth, my nose taking in the inviting smells, my eyes feasting on the colors I love and my ears listening to the relaxing crunch crunch as I chew and swallow the food. I am going to list them here (You never know when "someone" decides to treat me to my perfect dinner on say, Val day or just for the heck of it -- hey! Not hinting. All am saying is, you never know):

My perfect dinner...why dinner? Because the ambience is important for me and dim lighting is an important part of the ambience for me and that means dinner. I am thinking of an Olive Garden sort of setting with pleasant but unfamiliar Italian music in the background and the indistinct murmer of side table conversations but I can adapt to familiar but low volume music in the background, dim lighting right above the dining table right at home (Thank God for dimmers). All this is assuming the dinner is home-cooked. I am not a big fan of take-outs and I don't like eating in the car (Woodlands style) or standing and eating (Saravana Bhavan style).

Let's see now, basics first -- the place has to be clean. Fengshui will tell you that. Clutter kills the moment. Nice, not necessarily fancy but clean and nice plates, bowls and cutlery. I am not a big fan of a multitude of little bowls cluttering my dinner plate. I like mixing foods and eating them, the south Indian style! Colorful table-mats are a plus but not a necessity.

Ok so, that's taken care of. Now, let's move to the main story:

Start with an appetizer. The classic tomato soup of course with home made croutons (Sorry Sandra Lee but home made it is) and a swirl of cream on top like they do it in Palimar in Chennai.

I could do with some fresh salad by the side with Italian dressing but that's something I developed a taste for in the US. Not a must really.

Main course will be a choice...hmm, make that both paav bhaji and south Indian Barota. No, not paratha, not parantha, not naan and not roti. Barota. The way they serve it in Saravana Bhavan -- crispy and fluffy at the same time with golden brown flecks and layers and layers of perfection. Kuruma by the side. Not chola, not random unrecognizable punjabi vegetables with gravy but kuruma. Raitha maybe, not too crazy about it. Maybe if it's a pineapple raitha, then yes, sure!

The paav bhaji should be like...hmm, the ones they serve in the erstwhile Woodlands drive-in in Chennai. Butter glistening on the lightly toasted bhajis with sesame seeds peeping out from them. The tomatoes adding a shocking touch of color to the potato bhaji. Decorated with coriander leaves and a sprinkle of finely cut onions on top.

And then (rubbing hands in glee) dessert! Tiramisu is my current favorite but if I were in Chennai, it would be Sathukudi juice with pulp, freshly squeezed (Saravana bhavan style). I guess if it's the juice, I would like it along with my main course. And finally, casatta icecream. I am not a big fan of fruit salad or chocolate icecream but I like the variety the casatta offers -- Cake in the bottom and multiple colored layers on top, so you are subjected to a surprising variety of flavors as you bite through it. Yum!

If a walk in the beach is possible and time permits, then kulfi! Just the sound of the tinkling bells announcing the kulfi guy is enough to make me jump in glee! It was Rs.2 or was it Rs.3, when I was in Chennai...and the top part of it would always have melted a little bit and I would have to rush and lick it up before I wasted even a precious drop of it...aaaah! Each drop was nectar itself!

So, that's it. I might not make every day's meal a reason for celebration but certain foods by association with pleasant memories and places or just by virtue of their character evoke magic and I am all for making a big deal of that!


Anonymous said...

In the good old days there was Shanthi Vihar which had the best pav bhaji and channa bhatura. Paroota is my fav fav dish. I miss it vey much.
Kulfi .. reminds of my younger days... the kulfi man will come around announcing his arrival. That was the most eagerly awaited moment....
I recent visited Amma in your area and enjoyed the food.

Vidhya said...

Same here. My husband loves his food!!And some favourite dishes (normal ones like vatha kozhambu or bindi) he wants it on the weekend instead of weekday, when he can eat more relaxed. I on the other hand, am like you, dont show much excitement.

Rhymes and More.. said...

hey what abt the pilani chat and rabadi:)

IBH said...

i am a great foodie at heart...the one thing that made me work in the kitchen in my younger days were the days amma would make cauliflower fry....remember the type of cauliflower you would get in Madras? I would be cleaning it diligently just for teh fact that it is going to be made in to this scrumptious meal by mom :) that is how much of a foodie am..:)

Vishnu said...

The description on how you savor the food just depicted my own self in that. I eat just like that you have mentioned in your post!

Only in my late teenage that I started enjoying the variety of tastes. How I wish I started enjoying the delicacies much earlier :)

RS said...

anon - :)
vidhya - Yay! Some company finally!

RT - Oh yeah! Sweetness and more sweetness! Love it!

IBH - Nothing was able to attract me to the kitchen until I turned 21!

Vishnu - :)

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