Food Writing is the best! – Books

Hard-boiled eggs, ham sandwiches, bacon, jars of potted meat, scones and homemade jam, crusty loaves of freshly baked bread, slabs of butter, fresh farm cheese, red radishes and lettuce, apple pies, short bread biscuits and homemade lemonade. Ring a bell? There’s more  –

Tongue sandwiches (that’s the giveaway), cold ham, bacon and egg sandwiches, pork pies, tinned sardines,  bars of chocolate, potatoes gleaming with melted butter, jars of fresh clotted cream, fruit cake, jugs of milk, cherry tarts, and ginger beer.
(I got real hungry when I put this list together).

Food Writing must be the best thing in the world – in what other genre would you not be irked by the author’s overuse of ‘fresh’? Fresh farm cheese and fresh clotted cream are a blessing!
I first read Enid Blyton without a clue of what scones/bacon/tarts/pies were and could only hope tongue sandwiches didn’t serve real tongue. When Famous Five and Secret Seven went on their picnic/teaparties, I would re-read the list of foods they got packed, savoring every single one, slowly. As if drooling the first time wasn’t enough.

The Faraway Tree with its Land of Goodies and Birthdays was every kid’s dream treat, though after sometime I restlessly turned pages to find the Land of Stationery (there was none). I mean what about tiny, aesthetic perfect-edged Faber Castell erasers? What kid isn’t obsessed with sketchpens and color pencils? Only flavored jellies and macaroons, honey-filled pop cakes, popsicles and icecream, pound cakes dipped in white candy and Blyton’s regulars of boiled eggs, ham, bacon and cucumber sandwiches could make up for it.

But the start-of-term Great Feast fare in Hogwarts was never as tempting as a plainly-written Enid Blyton afternoon-tea menu. Roast chicken, boiled and mashed potatoes are all I recall (and the movie scene where Ron chows down chicken legs). Of course there were grand coursemeals with bacon, beef, lamb and steak, Yorkshire pudding and gravy, but I was happiest during The Burrow visits, where Molly Weasley perpetually tipped sausages and fried eggs onto plates and sent extra helpings of chicken pie flying around.

Would I want to indulge in the elaborate spreads described in books? Not really, rousing (or is it torturing) my senses is indulgence enough. And only Enid Blyton can make cucumber sandwiches seem so appetizing.
Though I’d like to taste the gruel/porridge from Oliver Twist – because the way Sister Pramila mouthed thin watery soup in Class 6 English made it sound like she regularly prepared it at the convent and it was in fact delicious.

And French onion soup! There was so much of it in the Harry Potter series, it pushed me to google the recipe (I mean I’m not that kind of person). I had pictured it a faded pinkish-brown, with soggy yet not mushy half-rings of onion submerged in a thick creamy broth. Savory than sweet.

Maybe I’ll try cooking it someday.

I like soup.

PS : I think this is the most fun I’ve had making a blogpost. My salivary glands are exhausted.

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Monsoon Diaries : Steel tumblers and tea in steel tumblers

I can drink tea directly from the steel tumbler at home – the smaller one with the steel handle – only when I have prepared it. Because with Amma’s tea there’s enough only for 4 modest-sized glasses (or 5 or 6, based on how many of us are missing from home), no more. And why would you drink from a tumbler if your glass had as much (tea) to offer? Unless you didn’t want to bother washing that extra glass.

We also have in our kitchen the steel tumbler with the steel handle in a bigger size, it lets me pretend I’m chaya-adikaling (beating tea?) over the kitchen sink that temporarily functions as a spillover tank for the tea I send flying all over. Usually little, if any, is left by the time I’m done performing the rhythmic beating (adikal).

Image result for south indian tea shop gifA scaled-down demonstration of beating tea. When you really perform the act, it should look something like this :downloadBeating tea/Chaya adikaling (to scale) for people who haven’t witnessed the sorcery. I’m a bad witch, I guess. Also a bad translator.

I specifically mentioned the steel handle of the steel tumblers because we also have in our kitchen a steel tumbler about the same size with a black plastic handle that we take kanjivellam (rice water), and occasionally tendercoconut water in. We don’t use it for much else, it lays abandoned in an unwieldy corner of the kitchen until somebody falls sick. And then all of a sudden it is everywhere you look.
(Kanjivellam has been claimed by Malayali Achans and Ammas and Ammummas and Appoopans to have high nutritious quality. Some go as far as assigning analgesic, antiseptic and antibiotic properties to the magical drink).

Since the arrival of June, the steel tumbler for kanjivellam with the plastic handle has taken over my home.

 


Evenings are for tea.
Mornings are also for tea but morning chaya would be Amma’s monopoly.
I like to be generous with tea, both for myself and others. It helps that I’m bad at discerning proportions, unlike my mother. There is not too much difference in our processes, only in our products.

Amma’s chaya (served in glasses) :

1. Pour enough water in the vessel for 4/5/6 people
2. When it boils, add enough Kannan Devan Tea powder aka chayappodi
3. Add enough boiled milk followed by enough sugar

Define enough? Quite ambiguous yet not exactly uncertain, rather open to interpretation. Are we doing modern art?
Enough is enough!

My chaya (served in glasses and a tumbler) :

1. Pour water in the vessel. Take some out if I think it’s waay too much but otherwise I do not meddle. Like I said, I’m generous. A little too much water = a little too much tea. And that never hurt anybody. No?

2. Add tea powder when the water boils – enough chayappodi to color all the liquid, doesn’t matter what shade as long as it appears brown. (If not, you probably shoved in the wrong condiment. Throw out the water discreetly and start over).

3. Add milk – how much ever is left in the paal paathram (also did I mention I’m generous).

4. Time for more tea powder because you knew that was waay too much milk before I even added it.
Yes indeed, waay too much is Amma’s daughter’s catchword.
Define waay too much? That’s cute, you’ll know.

5. Sugar, usually followed by some more tea powder. More sugar. What? Be generous.

And there you have it. The path to attaining high BP. But that never killed anybody. No?