Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Magical Blends

I spent the formative years of my life around India never knowing what it was speak to my friends in my mother tongue. Relocation is still synonymous with childhood. With every move I learnt a new language and expanded my cultural and culinary horizons. In fact, I was so used to change that staying in the same city or worse the same house for more than a year epitomized stagnation – it would make me crave for the movers to come in, for us to get on the train again and go far away never to return. I must have a certain nomadic gene that yearned to be on the move always.

My food habits were formed as a result of my rootless childhood. A friend’s mother would have me over one day for lunch and I’d fall in love with her cooking and beg my mother to try the recipe at home. I discovered how nuanced the art of cooking can be and how much the same recipe can vary from one family to the next , the many riffs on the same blend of spices leading to so much difference in taste.

There were no cook books, the women had mastered the imperfect and imprecise measures to create magic. During the school holidays they went home with the kids to their native towns . They came back with pickles, savories and spice mixes from aunts, mothers and grandmothers - these were the heavenly potions turned everyday cooking to something sublime. I often wondered what would become of the recipes after the older women died and if it were possible to catalog recipes from homes all over the country like an oral history project - something like the storycorps would be just perfect.


Prerona said...

Nice post ... relocating is unsetling but the feeling passes. Happy New Year :)

Heartcrossings said...

Prerona - Happy New Year to you too !