Before COVID, with all kinds of food delivery apps and the fact that we are a hop skip and a jump away from many eating houses that “home-deliver”, we were in a really comfortable place, food-wise. We could satisfy whims, make last-minute decisions depending on our craving at the time, and get whatever we wanted.
Since the time that COVID came to stay, we thought it prudent to stick to home food — and each day found me slaving over multiple choices, experimenting with pastas and parathas, pickles and puddings — as well as all the regular fare that had become somewhat tedious for both the cook and the one cooked for!
Then, in a rash moment of extreme generosity, I made the grand gesture of offering to make all the dishes usually bought from restaurants.
I had obviously not fully thought this through or taken into consideration the ramifications of my offer despite having spent almost four decades with this worthy soul with whom I shared my home space, because suddenly I had a list that was longer than my arm: mutton this and chicken that, dry fruit barfi and peanut brittle … all that I had never whipped up, but what he had obviously dreamed of for years!
I hemmed and hawed and delayed and made excuses about the availability of ingredients but that did not carry me very far. Eagerly, he got to his part of the process — the shopping — and before I could think of any more reasons to procrastinate, everything was on the kitchen counter waiting to be sliced and diced or whatever.
How could I extinguish that hopeful gleam in his eyes? How could I go back on my word?
So, with firm resolve, I got to it. In marathon mode.
No finesse, no dainty touches, no perfection on a plate.
Just enormous quantities of the fancied foods, enough to carry us into 2022.
For someone looking for a surprise dish-a-day, maybe expecting tender care as I laid out the tempting fare, this sudden deluge of dishes of all types, in quantities both of us knew we could not finish for months to come, came as a shock!
As for the profusion of aromas, the onslaught on the taste buds: it was too much to handle! Appetites were squashed rather than satisfied.
There was just too much to choose from — and we opted for eggs and bread for supper.
Of course, our handy — and voluminous — freezer space came to the rescue. Nothing would be wasted. So, storage containers of all sizes were pulled out and packed and stacked into the freezer and I couldn’t stop smiling! Ahead of me stretched endless weeks of liberation from the kitchen — which also meant an indefinite time without losing my cool while facing the heat of the stove!
And, in my opinion, a lucky someone could opt for the item of his choice every day for weeks on end!
Win — win — win!
What could be better than that?
Sadly, I learnt that too many choices and too many “special” dishes to choose from are not necessarily a good thing! Our days begin not with a pleasant “Good morning” but with a curt, “What do you want to eat today?”
Within a short time, both of us forgot the names of all those fancy treats that had been prepared and thus either I struggled to provide choices or he struggled to choose: and a war of words — or more specifically, a war of the right names for each dish — began.
Obviously, all those other households, including both our childhood homes, knew what they were doing when no options were offered, meals were just prepared, placed on the dining table, and everyone ate — and no one was given a choice!
— Cheryl Rao is a writer based in India