Things about VC that I never want to forget #14
VC is the strangest foodie I know
Back in the day when VC was trying to get to know me, rather than trying to get in my pants, we spent enormous amounts of time at various coffee shops talking a lot of rubbish. Some times when I think back, certain conversation pop back at me, and I wonder what in God’s name made me go ahead and stick around. Heh. Like the time he asked me my star-sign.
“Taurean,” I said.
“Oh, so you’re a foodie,” came his nonchalant response. So smooth. And unplanned. (Not.)
Apparently Linda Goodman told him so, he was not afraid to tell me.
And I remember thinking fuck, I’m with a boy who reads (and believes) Linda effing Goodman. Help.
Of course my shock was compounded by the fact that 1) back then, I was not half the foodie I am now 2) he didn’t know if I was really a foodie, so what was he trying to get at?! (the answer is obvious now, but I was playing hard to get then, remember?) 3) maybe he was just trying to put his cards out and check for compatibility. Because he is quite the foodie. Back then, it was defined as loves to go out and eat greasy, rich food. Today, he lives it in a more finetuned form. As in he loves a good meal, revels in trying new delicacies and enjoys experimenting in the kitchen.
Food — whether we’re eating it, talking about it or wishing for it — is one of the big loves we share together. Despite the stark, fundamental differences in our tastes, we manage to get wide-eyed with wonder about trying out a creepy sounding new thing, or get equally excited about scoping out a hole in the wall in a new place we’re visiting, or find the same amount of joy in a Sunday spent cooking. Even as he curls his nose away from dal every time I make it, and doesn’t believe in eating some curd every day (like I do, of course!) we manage to see eye to eye on some, if not all, things.
So yes, he is quite the foodie, but sometimes I just think he is a misguided foodie. He likes to think his tastes are totally normal. He likes to think they’re a little refined, for my liking, but entirely acceptable in his mind. I just think his tastes are random, don’t follow a pattern and are downright over-the-top.
You ask the man a simple question, “Rice or rotis for lunch?” and it’s perfectly normal to have him respond with a request for smoked salmon or something equally outrageous and totally not available in my kitchen on a random Monday morning.
He loves the Kannadiga rasam/saaru I make, but loathes a simple dal. Even though the difference is just the addition of rasam powder and tamarind. He loves paneer in gravy form, but scramble it in a burjee and he wont touch it with a bargepole. How does that work? I don’t know how, but you get the drift.
He is mighty grateful for the fact that the wife he married five years ago, who claimed she couldn’t even boil a pot of water, now willingly cooks and delivers him hot lunch day after day, a habit he is quite happy to have cultivated. He claims it makes him feel healthy to eat home-cooked food, and since what goes in the box is up to me, he has come to expect a fair share of salad, sabji, some baked goodies and all those things my mommy told me were good for me, that VC grew up without ever tasting — like a daily dose of curd, random raw veggies, sprouts every now and then, South Indian tiffin masquerading as a meal, etc.
Predictably, a hot lunch delivered at the office attracts more eyeballs than VC anticipated. With most people longing for home-cooked meals, its hard to dig in to a box of piping hot ghar ka khana, even if the box isn’t yours. So many weeks of sharing, and feeling slightly less than full at the end of it, he came up to me one evening with a very sincere request.
“Can you make something that tastes really sexy, but that looks like shit so people wont dig in every time I open my box?”
Yes, with that delectable visual image of a brief to work with, I quickly dashed into the kitchen, rustled up something super fast, and emerged with a delicious meal for my husband to enjoy all by himself.
I’m lying. I couldn’t do it. He probably got nothing for lunch that day.
The other strange thing about VC is his fixed ideas about tastes and food. He has a strong aversion to overpowering spices and aromatics. For someone who loves (and I lean lurrrrves!) Asian food, I couldn’t wrap my head around his hatred for ginger and garlic. I tried not telling him how much of it is probably in his Thai curry, lest he give it up altogether.
You know Murphy’s law about the thing you hate most always ending up in your plate? VC is always the one to get the lone pod of cardamom, the single clove or cinnamon stick that I try and discretely disguise in my pulao or biryani. It’s like the damn spices seek him out!
So recently, when he was cooking me some fried fish and was grating away happily with a little piece of ginger, and making the marinade smell insanely yummy, I raised my eyebrows and asked, “Wow VC, you do know that’s ginger, right?”
To which he sheepishly responded, with a hint of a grin, “I think you should sit down for this one.”
But before the look of worry to sweep over my face completely, he finished his sentence, “I am beginning to really like the flavour of ginger.”
He was right, I should have sat down for that one, because the surprise mixed with joy was too much to handle. Because it meant there was yet another thing I didn’t need to sneak in and hide in my cooking anymore.
When there’s usual non-fancy grub VC has a small appetite. I end up eating more than him on most days. He doesn’t do seconds unless it’s something super-duper awesome he has to give in to gluttony. I have always admired his restraint when it comes to rice. He always stops at one helping, while I go back for seconds and then a wee third to mop up with curd. Then I realised he just didnt care too much for rice. But there is the odd time he can turn into a belter, and I am usually equally amazed at the demonic levels of gluttony that suddenly get unlocked. So amazed that I worry when I see him walking around post-meal, with a troubled look on his face, unable to hold his belly up.
One such time, he decided to give up and rushed off to lie down in order to feel better. He couldn’t bear waiting five-ten whole minutes for the food to slide down his gullet and low enough into his digestive tract to feel like it had settled. I rushed in to tell him not to lie flat so soon after eating, and a pained VC begged, ” But I’m SO full. Too full to stand. Can’t I walk for two minutes instead of standing for ten minutes? It should speed it up no?”
Er, try telling that to the egg curry and rice you belted at breakneck speed and maybe it will comply.
So much to poke fun at, fawn over and cherish amongst all the other nonsense and wisdom that comes out of his mouth. Around here I behave like the enlightened foodie. The one that has it all right, just waiting to expound the whys and hows of taste and flavour to VC. Sometimes, he takes it seriously. Sometimes he surprises me. For someone who couldn’t go one week without eating out, who’s confused taste-buds and skewed foodie upbringing have been such a source of entertainment for me, for someone who didn’t think he could enjoy ghar ka khaana and only turned to it because there was little option, he really surprises me.
An unplanned experiment saw us eating at home for three months, with an average of one restaurant meal a month, at the start of this year. I didn’t realise just how much time had passed this way, until VC said to me one day, “I don’t think I like eating in restaurants as much anymore. It’s just always nicer at home.”
That, is the sound of victory for a home-cook who is always trying to get better and beat the foodie demons out of the kitchen.
So yes, it might have all started seven years ago with questions about star signs and possible foodie-ness. Yes, Linda Goodman might have some part to play in all of this. Yes he’s a funny foodie, the strangest one I know. He’s got a twisted sense of taste. Yes, I make so much fun of it all. But he’s quite alright, this chap, you know?