August 17, 2023
Food war 1
I finally pronounce food affairs as most romantic. It would be no understatement to state that Indian weddings are the real epitome of palatable lust. Gone are the days when guests at weddings were hosted to a standard fare, usually comprising the roti-sabzi-daal-chawal combination and a sweet or dessert towards the end (read: gulab jamun or kulfi). And let’s not deny how the people then showed equal, if not more, enthusiasm at the sight of free food. The term ‘free food’ quite aptly and easily summarizes how pocketless transactions and a no-food-shaming policy form a core foundation of every Indian’s life.
A major food war broke out when I attended a wedding reception a few days ago. I was updated about the extensive list of items on the menu even before I got there. Apparently, and to add water in my mouth, the most popular caterers in Mumbai were hired to serve the wedding attendees. No sooner did I step out of the car than a natural bounce in my walk dictated my entry into the venue.
It was quite strange to think that the bride and the groom had conspired to remain absent till I addressed my increasing food cravings. At a glance, an exhaustive line of food stations filled me with contention. I rejoiced upon knowing that I wouldn’t go home hungry. There were a startling 8 cuisines that awaited a binge attack.
I believe there are primarily two types of experiences that our lives are divided into. The first category constitutes experiences that are dominated by a suspected eventuality of being rewarded. Here, you get indulged only after you have successfully seen all hurdles through. The second category constitutes experiences that are born out of the greed for extracting divine satisfaction. Without any exaggeration, my food tour starting with Cheese Burst Dosa and ending with a seven layered exotic mousse, screamed lust from the word go. With every portion that decorated my platter, I became increasingly desperate and lustful about relishing every ounce of what lay in front of me.
Stall no. 1 was a big hit with the guests who did not wish to venture past the tried and the tested. A tawa brimming with cheese on top of a fermented layer that was lathered in butter was enough to melt my calorie-centric guilt. I was almost waging a war while trying to grab my share of the dosa amidst frantic hoggers. My hard earned bites were worth every bit of the shoving and restlessness. Not withstanding the fact that cheese is the secret to all the sacred deliciousness in the world, I was coming to life a little more with the feel of every other ingredient on my tongue, including hot spices and exotic chutneys.
“Excuse me! Excuse ME…EXCUSE MEE!’’ I shouted, “2 slices please!” I blurted. The live quesadilla counter was the real crowd puller. It was like that showstopper that everybody was looking forward to. I pulled myself out of the frenzy with my hoops almost coming off and the parting of my hair losing its shape. I frantically began to adjust my dupatta in anticipation of the new couple when I was told that my bindi had disappeared. Wait, the embarrassment continued still further. I chanced upon the groom’s parents just when I stuffed a rather lavish slice of quesadilla into my mouth all at once.
A saree-clad server kept catching my attention intermittently. My mind wandered to thinking about why a woman so elegantly dressed should ever make rounds across the width and length of the venue to fetch food for guests. She looked graceful even while carrying two heavy platters in her hands to a table. The nacho chips gently glided back and forth over the thin pizza crust that was carefully laid out to resemble the petals of a flower. At once, I was seemingly hesitant to tamper with any food art. After much contemplation, I carefully pulled out a slice of the pizza. My ears ate as much of a big, crunchy bite as my big mouth. And here I was, 6 cuisine trials later, sitting with a bloating stomach but not willing to give up any soon.
Half an hour later, when a long queue had already made its place, I was back in action, ready to get going once again. This time it was the steaming hot Thai curry. There’s something about Thai curry that is gravitational in nature. Maybe it was the therapeutic aroma of coconut milk, tossed in an assortment of veggies, that did the trick. The item had all the elements to cause catastrophic hunger in a satisfied stomach. The exotic mix of ingredients combined with a rich gravy was truly a diner’s delight. So well-crafted was the menu, that I was lost in a maze of perfection.
BURP! My stomach was showing signs of extreme fulfillment. The last gulp of the Thai curry felt like a moment of glory. Never earlier had I experienced the kind of pleasure and satisfaction that I sought in the knowledge that I had done justice to almost every dish on the menu. I would like to believe that I came close to receiving the full worth of the money spent (which screamed off the plate’s reflection) on every plate. The reason why I choose to remain modest in my claim that my feast was a little short of perfection is because I missed out on smacking my lips to the cold-stone delight, owing to an overdose of paneer kebabs and crushed pistachio sprinkled over piping hot Kesar-Badaam Doodh. And, maybe, Kit Kat tiramisu.