Reading has always been a window to a lot of things for me. To different ways of life, experiences and(perhaps, most importantly) food.
As long as I can remember, I remember being tantalized by descriptions of food. Not that I was a foodie by any standards, I was a picky eater, driving my mum crazy. Despite being a picky eater, the one thing that would induce me to try stuff was the food described in books. Enid Blytons descriptions made my mouth water. What exotic stuff they ate. Scones, eclairs, wafer thin cucumber sandwiches, pickle… I suspect I started eating our Indian pickles after reading about them in those books. Little did I know that those pickles were a world apart(and far less tasty, now that I have tasted them). I figured that the eclairs they ate were not the same as the Cadbury’s eclairs that we got from our shops, yet in my imagination, it was the same. I was fascinated enough with scones to try them as soon as I could when I landed on English shores.
Not all my food fantasies had nice endings though. Once I told me grandfather than sardines sound so exciting. The famous five used to carry cans of sardines and tuna. It was such a disappointment when my granddad showed me what sardines actually were. And tuna sandwiches, those are something that even Enid Blyton will not persuade me to eat now, but then it was just perfect – in my mind. But the books were magical that even knowledge refused to defuse my fun. I’ve imagined that my idli with sambar was actually meatloaf, who cared what meatloaf actually was. In my imagination, that was it, and delicious it was, I can assure you. There was this short story in our English Literature syllabus – in ICSE, about Subbiah a road side vendor, who used to sell the most delicious idlis and dosas. That had me drooling despite the fact that it was regular fare at home.
Now, as a grown up , who has traveled( a fair amount), and eaten most of those exotic foods that I had only read about, I still drool. Writers who weave food and recipe magic. Books that transport you to another place, making you lust for luscious tomatoes, crisp salads, delicious gravies that tantalize your tastebuds, the aroma of bread being baked, the description of chappathis puffing up, soft, snowy idlis, perfect, crispy dosas, cheese that take you to another level.. Those books on Italian cuisine, makes me want to drop everything and eat those heavenly pizzas with truffles, or perhaps pasta, tossed perfectly with the seasonal vegetables.. of course, its not just books that make me drool these days. Blogs are far more efficient, what with pictures and recipes to boot, is there anything stopping me? My weight ought to stop me, but even that isn’t a strong enough deterrent.
I just realized that life has come a full circle. Now, I have company. My six year old comes up and tells me, ‘ oh, this sounds so delicious, Amma, rosemary bread with wild mushrooms! Please can I have it! I feel like eating it after reading this book’. Of course, that has me grinning like a Cheshire cat and I guess the least I can do is bake her some bread, if not rosemary bread, right?