I feel no shame in accepting the fact that H and I love food.
I have been a food lover ever since I can remember. During school days, I had this habit of peeping into the kitchen even before I went to brush my teeth. It used to drive Amma crazy.
“Don’t touch this with unclean hands! Just wait and watch! It will get you into trouble at your in-laws”, she used to mumble in between her prayers.
The monotonous radish sambar, beans or cabbage curry cooked generously in coconut or sometimes worse, slimy ladiesfingers, were always met with a long face. Thankfully I had some really good friends in school who were generous enough to finish it up for me. On rare occasions, when Amma used to make rotis with chana masala or pulao for lunch, I used to get so impatient just waiting for the lunch break.
My outlook towards food changed as soon as I moved away from home for university. I began to thank every morning cup of tea that my mother selflessly prepared for me during my trips home. I craved so much for home-cooked (or rather Amma-cooked) food that whenever I got pulled to a restaurant with my cousins, I sincerely ordered a bowl of curd rice.
Then H happened. I was so relieved to find out that he loves to cook and enjoys it too. During one of our conversations about food, topic drifted to kozhakattai.
Me: Oh, I love kozhakattai too.
H: What goes best with it?
Me (in a Complan girl tone): I eat it as it is.
H: I eat kozhakattai with molaga podi. That’s the best side-dish.
This is when I began to doubt his tastebuds and felt my first pangs of cold feet. How could anyone eat something as sweet as kozhakattai with molaga podi? After an argument that almost made us run out of our skype credit, we realized that he was talking about pudi kozhakattai (salty rice flour dumplings) and I, was talking about our very own pillaiyar kozhakattai (sweet dumplings). There began our first misunderstanding. When I went back to bed that night, I began to wonder, ‘Still, pudi kozhakattai and molaga podi?’ I didn’t know that existed.
Little did I realize that I had only seen a trailer of my husband’s ‘bizarre food combos.’
Ever since we have started living under the same roof, our marriage all fresh and vibrant, I have been trying to cook up something new every day. Upon returning home from work, he walks straight into the kitchen (with his shoes!) to check out what’s cooking for dinner, while I rummage through his messy bag for a surprise donut or cheesecake. One look at his sparkling eyes and I know its all worth it. This whole cooking exercise after work is tiring, but the joy, unparalleled. Sometimes I even see my childhood image in him and then I know my life has come a full circle.
One day, I decided to make him my Indian fusion version of his favourite pasta. I made it all colourful with vegetables, a healthy amount of cheese shimmering on top, laid it out in a bowl, and gave it that profession touch with some Italian herbs for dressing.
As soon as I open the door, he walks straight to the kitchen. It amazes me how he still has that jump in his step after almost 14 hours of work. Excited, he quickly gets changed and ready to feast. After the first few spoons, he slowly wriggles away into the kitchen, only to bring back a packet of Haldirams aloo bhujiya. I cringe at his insane idea and tell him, “You are spoiling the flavour of the pasta.” But I can only hear how crunchy and desi my pasta has turned out in his hands.
On extremely tiring days, I just do the two-minute noodles thingie. When I am half-way through my plate of maggi, I watch him pack the noodles between two slices of bread, making it look like tentacles were flowing out of them. Even before I say anything, he goes on to reminisce about his college days. Like salt, bread goes with almost anything for him - sambar, rasam, avial and once, even thai green curry!
I’m no saint when it comes to mix-n-match with food. During my 12th board exam preparations, my cousin, who was then preparing for his 10th exams, came over to study with me. Late one night we got super hungry and ended up eating the left-over pani pooris (sans the paani) stuffed with Haldirams moong dal and grapes! Those were the only things we could lay our hands on without disturbing my parents. Eventually we ended up waking them up anyway because we both were literally rolling on the floor laughing. That was my first and last bizarre food.
Anyway, coming back to H. As much as I am awestruck by his outlandish food ventures, I am not offended, because he has only added his adventurous touch to my modest kitchen craft. He doesn’t force me to try these either. He knows and respects the fact that I have very stringent rules drawn on my plate.
Afterall, while being in love is about enjoying your similarities; marriage is about enjoying your differences as well. So, nowadays during weekends, I am entertained by these tea time horror movies in which H dips Parle Krack Jack (the pepper one) into his masala tea and gorges on Punjabi samosas with mayonnaise.