by Swatee Jog
How could we not be happy when our food has become as adventurous as our lives and outfits and holidays have? Simply put, food today is not just a means of providing the body with a source of energy, nutrients and building the immune system. Today, it is associated with all this and much more. We seek food for comfort, for time pass, for flaunting our wealth as well as for voyeurism.
A typical breakfast 20 years ago in my parents’ home would be sumptuous Maharashtra- Karnataka fare – poha, uppit, sheera, thalipeeth, sabudana khichdi or the South Indian delicacies of Idli, dosa, appe or tomato omelets. Today my table is laid with muesli, cornflakes, brown bread and sometimes one of the yesteryear stars mentioned above. Over the last few years, a call to my father after I return from work was de rigueur.
The first thing he inquired was what I had for dinner. Many times, I could sense the anguish in his voice when I replied that I had Bhel or noodles or cakes and would not eat rice/roti. For working couples like us, food at the end of a tiring day becomes a necessity which needs to be fulfilled sans any efforts.
We seek some pleasure in food after a hard day of work. That’s what I gather when we club usal with bread for dinner or simply decide to have some poha-soaked in milk and jaggery- the cornflakes way. Many of us would have even had it with a dollop of ghee! I’ve had my idlis with milk and sugar or even crunched some mean chivda with yogurt and sauce. At that hungry hour, a tired body ( and hungry stomach ) is far from picking up fruits and nuts and head towards the chopping board or the idle oven for some healthy food. Eating out is not a luxury reserved for special occasions but a weekly routine for every Saturday. Yes, it provides ample adventure with its doses of dumplings and risottos or the much liked tacos and burgers. Saturday also makes way for any upset / loaded stomach that can be dealt with on a lazy Sunday! I have a relative who buys pills for treating indigestion with his monthly groceries.
Falafel and hummus or even that trufles just seen on TV are now available in town. Food for our generation has lost its primary functionality and has jumped to frivolous levels of pompousness. And the most worrying part is that we understand this but can’t change. Rather, we have gotten used to this frivolous nature of food. It has become the anything-anytime-anywhere pacifier for us and then we blame that very food for clogging our arteries and the piling kilos. I have days when I just wander around the aisles accompanying someone at the Reliance Fresh or Big Bazar and end up picking foods like chips and cheese spreads and munch it later just for taste.
There are also days when I have kept aside the left-over burger or Kathi Roll in the fridge and to my horror, slept early so that I can wake up and wipe it off the next day! The adventure in the food is not just limited to what we eat today but also how we eat it. We treat food as casually as we would our friends or mobile phones. We eat what we want, whenever we want, however we want. Ask school children what they did with parents on a Sunday and nine out of ten times, they will say they ate out! Eating out has become a way of spending family time, and compulsory at that! Ah! That reminds me of the many रसाचे गुर्हाळ near Prakash Talkies, drawn by bullocks and providing tasty sugarcane juice had with loads of alepaak, amidst a swarm of mosquitoes!!
It is not uncommon to have things that we would normally have for breakfast to be had for dinner or vice versa. The adventure of food does not stop there. We have also replaced the dining table with the living room sofas facing the TVs. Move around the bungalow area in Belgaum around 9 at night and you’d see through open windows in the drawing rooms. Dishes in hand, eyes glued to the TV, family dinners in the drawing rooms, we gobble up faster than the heroine in the serial blinks. We have become so adventurous with food that children today tell their moms that an ice cream can replace a glass of milk to get the calcium or that the biscuits provide enough energy needed for a day. Our food has been largely influenced by the advertisements where a Bourbon becomes a tool for passion, a Nestle Alpino heals a verbal bruise to the wife and the simple glucose biscuit stands for genius. The TV has also impacted our sense of taste to tempt us to try fancy dishes at home, what with chef after skillful chef churning out dishes that are more unpronounceable than French itself. The Reliance Fresh outlets have neatly packed Salad leaves, Broccoli and sliced pineapple, ready to be picked by the Belgaum crowd. I was unaware of the difference between falafel and hummus or even that trufles are actually fungi till the TV told me it was so. And so I was tempted to try them out at the first occasion I could. Our adventure with food will continue as long as the stomach needs to be fed at least thrice a day and we have to find time for it with varied options and choices.
About the Author: Swatee Jog works as a Placement Officer and also teaches at Bharatesh Global Business School, and her articles have been published in Mint, HT , DH and DNA and she has also authored two books which are being published, one on management and one science book for kids.