Friday, January 9, 2009

Good Food

No I don't have a recipe. There are several great blogs out there with some fantastic recipes, more than I have the patience to try, let alone document.

To me, good food is a blessing. A well prepared dish or a meal involves all the senses, and satisfies one's soul along with one's stomach.

A bad meal? Well, as a co-worker remarked several years ago after a particularly bad lunch at the office cafeteria, in Hindi: "Pet bhara lekin dil nahi bhara". Translation: My stomach is full, but my heart is not.

To me, good food does not have to look good, no matter what the food channels say. One good dish can make a memorable meal. My anticipation of a good meal begins with the smell. The aroma of good food awakens my taste buds and kick-starts my appetite. And then, the first look at the dish. I don't need garnishes or elegant presentation. Frankly, the food can be served in the pot it was cooked in, for all I care. Appetizers are unnecessary.

An important consideration is quantity. I have a good appetite, if I say so myself; it follows that if I feel there isn't sufficient quantity for second servings for everyone, I am greatly disappointed. Not having to think about "will it be enough?" is an important part of the experience.

Once the food is on my plate, the aroma really hits me. At this point, I do not need any drink other than water to really enjoy my meal. Appropriate silverware is important too - I dislike delaying the gratification of the first taste by struggling with ill-equipped silverware.

I best enjoy a good meal with no or little conversation, at the table, savoring each bite - being aware of each taste - sweet, sour, salty, spicy, bitter. I try an entree with various sides, to better enjoy the variation. The sides need not be elaborate - pickles, chutneys, even chips. Water, to clean my palate between variations. Occasionally I indulge myself and have some butter or ghee along-with.

I dwell on the contrasts of flavors, and how they play with each other. All talk, if any will be about the food itself - not politics or the days events or solving a problem or about people. We can leave that to after dinner.

After the meal, I usually linger at the table for a few minutes. I talk. About the food. What I liked, what I didn't. Ideas for the next time this dish is made. This is my way of acknowledging and appreciating what the meal has done for me - for my stomach and my soul. I am not religious, but a good meal is a spiritual experience for me.

As you can imagine, I seldom get the chance to enjoy a meal in this way at parties or social gatherings. In smaller gatherings - sometimes. Occasionally, at home when I am not too tired by dinnertime - mostly during the weekends - is when I get to indulge in the role of a connoisseur.

We (my husband and I) set the table, turn off the TV or music, and eat. Not fast, but at a comfortable pace. Seconds if I want to. Until I am content. A good meal sets the tone for the rest of the day. And the next day too, if I have leftovers :-).


  1. Hi!!
    Nice writing !! I felt as I am reading my husbands emotions written in your blog and also my dad’s saying about.. talking less, not to watch T.V. while having our food..and just to enjoy the meal.
    Keep it up and Take Care of your Baby!

  2. For every word and opinion in this post - Amen to you too :)