Friday, May 26, 2006

Blame It on the Food

I drop by occasionally at Sailu's Food, and I tell you, some days she makes me so darn homesick. It doesn't help either, that she's from Vizag.

It's the mention of all those podis and pachhidis and vadas and food you just cannot get north of AP that does it. I have never understood why people have such problems adjusting to the food down south. It's awesome! In Vizag, where I spent my youth, we had 2 fantastic cooks as neighbours and they always thought my brother and I needed fattening up (because that strange Bengali food, you know, all sweet, cannot be as nutritious as Andhra stuff, right?) so we were constantly fed, wherever we went.

S's mum made this mean mutton curry, not to mention a prawn and raw mango dish that still makes me go weak at the knees with just the thought of it.

L's mother used to make rasam that was so beautiful to have that I'd hold it in my mouth a second or two instead of drinking it straight down, so as to let the different tastes in it reach the different parts of my mouth. She made fantastic dosas too, and let me tell you, they don't taste alike, dosas change from household to household.

E's mum made an egg curry that even I who don't like eggs so much, used to eat.

And then there were Nair Aunty's appams. Somehow, the ones Ma and I make just don't taste so magical.

I wish V could see the place where I grew up. The Vizag colony used to be a fantastic place to be a kid. Each of the quarters had its own front and back garden, and we all grew guavas and mangoes. Flowers for the daily puja were hardly ever bought. It was easier to get the ones you didn't have from your friends' gardens.

In our garden we had two curry trees that my mum would pluck her curry leaves from, and a guava tree that I fell out of several times when bitten by the odd pulla-cheema (tiger-ant) -- I still have problems eating bought guavas, they are just not fresh enough and I don't care how snotty that sounds -- and three mango trees that wreaked havoc on our poor roof by either bombarding it with giant mangoes or falling on it during the cyclones that part of the coast is prone to. We had all kinds of flowers and birds and snakes who liked to live in the plants. There was a particular group of babblers who used to be my personal alarm clock, while at the back I actually saw pheasants and once or twice, a cuckoo. Did I mention we were only separated from the colony swimming pool by a pair of swings (i.e. the end of the colony park) anda wire fence?

We had a row of bougainvilleas out at the back which I occasionally fought to get into some kind of order. Have you ever tried trimming a bougainvillea? They are thorny! I would usually retire from these battles well scratched, and go to my room complaining. There was also a jackfruit tree out back into whose upper branches Hardy-the-kitten once fled. He stayed up there, mewing piteously, so I got the gardener to climb up after it.He did, only when he reached the branch Hardy was on, the kit looked disdainfully at him and stalked down back to the ground. Unassisted.

...

I wrote this far and then went off to a meeting. After the meeting the mood's passed. So this is all you get. Till the next time I drop by Sailu's maybe! It bothers me though that my kids will probably never experience such a place for themselves.

3 comments:

Grafxgurl said...

well thats one thing that makes me glad about my family....we have the best of both the south and the north...mom makes all the great southie food and she learnt northie food too......my food is ...of a different breed i should say.... i keep inventing new things...my mom just shakes her head.

we used to get fresh guavas straight from the tree brought in by one of my co workers..he would pluck them on his way to work each morning...everyone in our station would get one...

i miss my job.and the people there.
i miss chennai. so much. i know what you mean about the food...

WishfulThinker said...

A post to gladden any southie's heart. Especially the heart of a full-blooded golti to boot! :)

Sue said...

Grafx - You're one lucky woman, and you married into an equally diverse family. Me, I actually ended up marrying wthin the 'proper' sub-caste etc. I swear if I'd known we'd turn out that way I'd never have dated V! On principle, y'know?

Wishful - You Gult? I always had you pegged for a Tam.