In the end, it was all about a plump, determined, snub-nosed, large-eyed, pigtailed young girl in a parkar polka, from a green coastal hamlet , suddenly thrown into a world of what is often called "style".
Gyms, size zero, fashion, slang, designer haircuts, fast friendships, faster food, makeup, unnatural color , artificial language, fair and lovely , the works etc.
She still remembers a time when meals were had , sitting cross legged on a "paaT". The cooking area had choolahs and stoves in the pre-cooking-gas days, and it was just a bit higher than the floor.
Coming up in life was all about a raised cooking platform, cooking gas, and dining tables and chairs. The steel plates , katoris and glasses remained unchanged.
And one after another, sit down dinners became stand up dinners, and buffets happened.
Like in everything else in life, appearance became important. Food was not just eaten and devoured, it was presented, appreciated , and imbibed.
But like they say, you can take the girl out of her land, but cant take the land out of the girl....
She still eats traditional simple comfort food. But she has learnt to present it, thanks to the hamper she recently received from Borosil. Good, nutritious , simple food. Where you get drunk on the smell, and wipe the plate clean, with the soft phulkas greedily meeting the Dal.
The once proud puffed up Phulkas, with a dribble of pure ghee, freshly satiated and quiet , in the Bake n Serve. So what if they weren't baked. They roll and puff on fire !
Ambadi ! No it isn't Italian, thought it might sound so.
Seasonal Ambadi greens, stir fried with onions, tomatoes, green chillies, and cooked with Dal, spiced and then a final touch with a scintillating tadka of red chillies.
Keep it hot and ready to slurp, in one of the Smart Triples with lid.
When things get too hot with the item number mirchis, a little red thing on the lid allows you a breather and you let off some steam...
Tomatoes and Onions, chopped to pieces. Comforted by the Crushed Roasted Peanuts. . A quiet sprinkle of chopped Coriander leaves. The lull before the tadka. Koshimbir Time !
Hot oil, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, a smattering of kadhipatta . A generous coming together of the clan. Stirring stuff, this , as the leafy flag is held high. The lid must stay away if the flag is to fly ! We are patriotic that way !
And what do you say about Kheer ? Seviyan, doing a hot Ras Leela with the Saffron strands in milk, tolerating some raisin types floating around with pistachio and almond folks.
Tired but happy, the Kheer sits, quiet under the special lid, which might itself behave as a plate in an emergency. Cooling away in the fridge, waiting for its Day in the Silver Katori. Yes, Every Kheer has its Day...
And then, Gourmet Bowls for stuff you relish. Raw Mangoes, in early retirement, aging well in the pickle masala.
And fresh Coconut celebrating the 8th August full moon, by participating in the chutney proceedings with old friends dhaniya and mirchis. A special Tulsi touch , as a lemon squeezes itself into the stuff. A quick surreptitious tasting, a thrilled closing of the eyes, and the chutney is presented to a world, currently obsessed with odd named sauces.
And then , the mango pickle, with months of experience, quietly expectantly sitting, thinking of curd-rice, surrounded by the ajwain beauties.
And what a vision she has ! Squat glasses in honor of her original eating style at meals, enjoyed at her folks' place decades ago. Mango days are clearly over, and it is Citrus time. Orange juice, blessed by tulsi leaves , fresh off the tree.
And she raises a toast, to her only indulgence in the new world she inhabits; fresh fruit juices .
An actual orange , worshipped with tulsi.
A bunch of ice cubes, a raising of glasses with her daughter, and suddenly, it's time for "Cheers !"
(I received a Borosil mega Hamper with the above containers as a result of being among the top 50 contestants in part 1 of the Indiblogger - My beautiful Food contest. This post is being submitted as an entry as required for Part 2 of the same contest. )