Food Critic by Navina Anand

Sheila  stood worried in her kitchen as she thought about what she should cook that would invite the least criticism. Sheila was not a foodie. She usually didn’t think about food until her stomach started rumbling. Through her college and years of living alone while working at a Multinational, she was happy to survive on Maggi, sandwiches and take-outs. She didn’t even know how to make Chai until she got married. And then of course she became a daughter-in-law. She was fine as long as the audience was just  her husband, because he was a guy who was cool with her experiments like Spaghetti Puliyodharai or whip up a poha recipe with leftover paneer butter masala, pani puri water  and purple cabbage salad.  But she wasn’t a pro at the traditional stuff. The stuff that is considered the badge of honour if you were a good cook. Her fingers trembled as she salted the sambar and seasoned the ‘Parupusili’.  As she set those out on the table , she worried about what today’s ‘comments’ would be. The day that she thought she hit it out of the park, her dad would say “Not bad” (his 5-star rating) and her mother-in-law would say nothing (Her 5-star rating).

Sheila’s story is fairly common. Interestingly much of the older generation is obsessed with food. The highlight of the tamizh wedding has to be the food amidst the somber rituals and the lack of any trace of fun on any one’s face. Unlike Punjabi weddings, most Tamizh weddings rely solely on food for entertainment. Gossiping about the food is the only thing people look forward to and we take it very seriously.

I guess there are two kinds of people in the world. Those who eat to live and those who live to eat. And I have always wondered if that is a genetic predisposition. And if like kinds don’t marry each other, their lives would either be a living hell or need a loooooooot of compromise.

I personally have always wished for a pill to be available that could take care of all nutritional needs on a daily basis so that humans can just eat for fun- things like chocolate , blueberry cheesecake or Bhel Puri  – like watching TV whenever we want, purely for entertainment. Usually when faced with a gargantuan buffet I make a beeline for the starters(yummm.. deep fried junk) and then head straight to desserts from there(yumm… sugar coma). There is no mid-way stop at rice or roti. I believe in optimizing space. Contrary to what you may have started to think, I love salads and think they are the perfect accompaniment to that triple scoop Sundae.

Back to food critic. So here is my opinion on food. If it is good, eat it and compliment the chef. If it is not good, shut up and eat it anyway because somebody slogged at it. Or better still, cook it and serve others if you are so picky. Food should be about nourishment and sustenance and not the raison d’etre for one’s existence. If the only excitement in one’s life is about what is for the next meal, one needs to get a life.

Sorry this is a rant 🙂 

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