Click here for the short story if you only clicked on this longer version out of politeness & want to beat a hasty retreat.
It was meant to be. I couldn’t have escaped my food obsession even if I wanted to. I am, metaphorically, an onion (hopefully without the stink) with layers and layers of influences that have fed my obsession with food.
It wasn’t enough that I was born to parents who talk about what to have for dinner while they are eating lunch, who analyse and critique every meal like they were doing a restaurant review (even if that meal is a something as simple as a snack of boiled peanuts) and who can tell you whether or not you’ve added a pinch of sugar to a gallon of curry.
Oh no it wasn’t. I have a very large extended family (clearly, food is just ONE of our family obsessions) on both my Dad’s and Mum’s side and in this family, there have been ups and downs, laughter and tears, joy and sadness, births and deaths (er, you get the idea) but the one thing that has remained constant through the years is the good food on the table – an oasis amidst the chaos that is life. Several of my family members are exceptional and inspirational cooks that have influenced me greatly.
And it wasn’t enough that I’m a Konkani. The Konkani community of the south-western port city of Mangalore is food-obsessed to say the least. It’s the law: ALL conversations between Konkani people shall ultimately lead to a discussion of food. So, please don’t be offended if I ask you what you’ve eaten before I ask you how you are. I can’t help it – it’s in my genes.
It also wasn’t enough that we Indians as a nation put a great deal of emphasis on fresh, home-cooked meals. So much so that in many families, refrigerated and frozen food is frowned upon (I’m not one of those people – in fact, my zeal for freezing has prompted my husband to worry that he might be next). And even though eating out in India is a fantastic experience, most households cook at least 2-3 meals everyday.
If my Indian background is the core of the onion that is me, then the outer layers are influences from all the places I’ve lived in : The UAE, Republic of Ireland and the UK; and the many countries I’ve visited. Whether I have lived in a country or visited it, food, to me, is one of the best ways to get up close and personal with the culture of that place. And I like to reinforce the memories of that experience, those flavours by cooking it up in my own kitchen.
Then there, of course, are the other global influences. I feel so blessed to be living in this age of the Internet where I can, at a click, discover the cuisines of places I have yet to visit, satisfy my nosiness about what other people do..er..cook in their kitchens & maybe even bring some of the magic from those far-away lands into my own kitchen. In a world that is rapidly shrinking because of technology, this can only be good news for those of us who are greedy food lovers and curious culture vultures.
To date, I have over 16 fat notebooks chronicling most of my life’s work in the kitchen. And it’s easy to see the pattern: all that I have cooked, eaten, experimented with, discovered in those years is a culmination of all these influences that make me who I am. This blog is where I hope to share this personal journey with you for company.