The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. This is not from the instruction manual of heart surgeons, who know better ways of getting there. It is merely a way of encouraging culinarily challenged brides to spend time in the kitchen.

Wikipedia credits the quote to Fanny Fern, a 19th-century American newspaper columnist. No, I hadn’t heard of her either, but let’s not get distracted.

The important thing to keep in mind is the connection between love and food. Or food and a marching army. Napoleon (now there’s a columnist I have heard of) said that an army marches on its stomach, leading to many quaint cartoons in his time no doubt, but his thinking was sound.

By a happy coincidence, a wedding party too is like a marching army – it marches on its stomach. Some of us know it, others find out the hard way.

Take the case of an almost-wedding in Bangalore recently. The bride’s side sent 30kg of chicken biryani to the groom’s side. Already that sounds like a competition, with the two teams lined up and the national anthem being played. But this was nothing like that. It was a gesture not of war, but of peace.

Sadly, they had miscalculated. No, 30kg was fine. It was just that chicken was not. The groom’s side were mutton biryani aficionados. Historically, the mutton people have not been anti-chicken to any great extent. Often they are happy to accept one or the other. But not in this case. To cut a long story short, a heated argument ensued, comparisons were made between the bird in the biryani and the temperament of the gift-givers, and before you could say “basmati rice”, the wedding was called off.

It is worthwhile quoting the newspaper report here: “Seeing the groom’s family’s behaviour prior to the wedding, the bride wondered how she would be treated after marriage,” and she displayed sturdy good sense in not waiting around to find out.

Perhaps she had read the story of the one who did get married, a few thousand kilometres north, in Dehra Dun. Here, a man killed his wife in a fit of rage “when he found that the vegetable dish served to him in his meal did not have tomatoes in it”. Not being a tomato-lover (had I been served a vegetable dish without tomato in it, I would have given the chef a special apron), I fail to see, etc… One man’s tomato is another man’s chicken biryani, as the old saying goes.

If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, brides must train themselves, as recommended by a TV anchor, to thrust upward through his ribcage.