I’ve had some wonderful meals with people I love, meals that they have cooked for me, or I’ve cooked with them. Memories of grandparents and houses in different parts of the world where I am a younger one, loved and well-fed, compete with days spent honing culinary prowess in kitchens (or on terraces) across the state of Goa with my peers.
I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) choose just one wonderful meal, or praise just one amazing chef (I’m diplomatic that way). So I chose the best bits and tossed up an ideal-meal salad. 280-something calories, with a side of senti. Kindly note that the ambience does indeed matter.
I’m eating with my family and friends. Perhaps it is a celebration of some achievement; perhaps all it is is a fellowship meal (we’ve already thrown the Ring into the fires of Mordor). We are relaxed, in a place where we are comfortable and safe, probably outdoors under a shamiana. Those who can are seated on mats on the ground, and there are chairs for those who can’t. Our food is on jackfruit-leaf plates, our cups are reusable (and will be reused or I’ll have something to say about it).
It is not too warm. We are near water; we hear it lapping at the shore or banks (sea or river, I wouldn’t mind either one). Later, once the half-hour our elders tell us to wait is over, we will go down to the water and splash about. Maybe I will “accidentally” fall in. On second thought, I now have to be more careful about what I’m teaching the young ones, so maybe I won’t fall in.
The food itself is simple fare, not because I don’t like things like sorpotel and chourico and cafreal and palak paneer (I ❤ them, especially the last one), but because those are not the best things to eat on a t-shirts-and-shorts kind of day. It will have to be finger food; that won’t require any cutlery. And everyone knows food tastes better when you eat with your fingers
Perhaps falafels and hummus, cutlets- both vegetarian and non-veg (i.e. meat and fish)- with pao if people want it, samosas, shredded cabbage, carrot and cucumber sticks (you can’t eat fried food only), and fruit for dessert- something locally, organically grown (if I were in Goa now, I’d be feasting on watermelon from Parra).
Thank you to all my aunts and uncles, especially on Mum’s side, for all the food and fondness, and to my friends who have fostered me, and to my own parents for whom food is both a basic biological need and a simple expression of deep love. You have, as a collective, inspired the sentiment behind this post.
Day 16: A short essay on etymology