“Food!”. Did just some just use the “F” word?

Thinking about food makes my mouth water and gets me day-dreaming. Coming from a state like Rajasthan where choosing either Lal maas (red meat cooked in spices) or Ghewar (a sweet prepared with ghee, flour, cottage cheese and sugar syrup) is as difficult as making a life decision, I take every dish as a new adventure.

Before, I tell you why, I’d want you to know that a) I prefer savory over sweets (the rich spices have a soft corner in my hand) and b) I prefer a home cooked meal over a restaurant meal. The joy I feel when I am home, surrounded by my family and my mother running from the kitchen counter to the dining table laying out dinner, cross checking that every family member’s requirement is met, makes my heart swell.

Eating is an adventure for multiple reasons. First, comes the big question: what to eat? My mother is always tense because of me -- at the dinner table, I argue over should be served for breakfast. Mind you, breakfast being the first and the “most healthy” meal of the day, apart from a main dish, I need my bowl of mixed fruits, my cup of tea (phew, on some days, I am forced to have Bournvita with milk, but why not?) served with bakery biscuits and a portion of egg (better if it is poached egg or egg benedict) at the breakfast table.

I keep throwing hints at her about what she should prepare for lunch and so on and so forth. After every meal, I need to make up my mind about what the next meal needs to be. It is extremely time consuming! And let’s not even got started on how I feel on those 2 AM heavy food craving nights when I gobble down hot custard (which on other days I like very chilled).

After crossing one hurdle of deciding what to eat, and when you actually get to eat, there is waiting. Unlike a few people, I do not mind waiting for my food. I love the feeling when I gather with my family on the dining table with those empty plates eagerly waiting be to filled with food, talking about how the day went and secretly awaiting the main course. I think this ‘waiting’ if not the best part is the second best part about eating. People who have seen me eat say my eyes get glittery at this time. I feel a shiver run down my spine. The thought of how the diced mutton (I prefer mutton over chicken) is been mixed with spices and masala, and how it has to be just perfect -- not too raw, not too over cooked -- makes me wonder a lot about life.

Don’t you think, just like the mixing of the mutton pieces in gravy, we also try to blend in with the people around us? For our relationships to work out, we can’t be too stringent about our feelings, or we can’t be too giving. We need to cut the cords and draw the lines, to make things perfect. Just like it takes some time for the mutton to cook well with the spices, we need to devote some amount of time to our relationships and once we do it -- just like the mutton preparation -- our life seems to be done, just right.

While thinking of all this, engaging in conversations, the food is served on the table and there is so much enthusiasm to take the first bite. This bite signifies that the wait is over. One more step is done.

The last adventure is relishing the dish. That first bite when your teeth takes the first bite, and your tongue senses all the rich tastes, that feeling is indescribable. While writing this, I have a vivid imagination of me doing the same and this make me hungry! There is an automatic reaction I have about the dish once I have the first bite.

This is not only telling my mother how brilliant a cook she is; it is also a reminder of how she never fails to amaze us. Her cooking skills improve after every meal. She gets excited like a five-year-old on a Christmas morning opening gifts. It gives her an additional boost to her confidence and also at the same time scares her about what’s the next demand.

Eating makes you learn so much about yourself. You get to discover your likes or dislikes. There are so many biases we have and if you take eating as an adventure you tend to overcome such ideas. For example, I won’t call myself a pumpkin fan, and I tried to avoid it as much as I could once because the pumpkin reminds me of the Cinderella fairy tale. But, one day, my grandmother had prepared sweet pumpkin and really wanted me to try it. After a lot of contemplating, I did decide to try the vegetable - just one morsel though. To my surprise, I actually liked the vegetable. I enjoyed the sweet and spicy taste it had and I overcame one of my biases and won’t mind giving it a second shot.

From all of this, I conclude, eating is really an adventure and if you haven’t thought about this till now, why not prepare yourself a meal and start thinking about it. It really does teach you a lot about life.