Saturday, May 30, 2009

The cat is out of the bag

The kitchen has always been the women’s preserve for ages and there was a tacit belief that the wives took care of providing the food at the dining table and the husbands worked to earn the wherewithal. Rarely did men learn to cook or find the ways the wives went about the job of making mouth watering delicacies. As I grew up eating what my mother made, I had developed a great liking for the culinary delights she made day in and day out. Even the hastily made mulligatawny rasam (Soup) when she was in a hurry to go somewhere was the nearest approximation to ambrosia with a teaspoon of ghee added to the mix with rice. I would not settle for anything less if I could make it. The scene changed when I got married to Vasantha who was brought up in the North. She had visited South only once before her marriage on a visit to Tirupathi She brought with her the flavour of garam masala, kala namakh and jeera powder in whatever she made. Their staple food was roti with all the side dishes that are a mix of Punjabi, Rajasthani and UP flavours with no whiff of South Indian aroma. Since her stay in my house after marriage was very short as I was working in Bengal, she had only her own culinary skills to fall back uninitiated in my mom’s way of making the food. I used to grumble foolishly (in retrospect) that the items she made painstakingly tasted different from my mom’s preparations despite my wife’s protestations that she followed to the T the recipe of a famous cookery book by Meenakshi ammal. Initially they were slightly alien to my taste buds but soon I got accustomed to her ways knowing well that she was gifted in this area too as she was adept in many other fields. More so when my friends and their families praised her whole heartedly for the exotic and delicious dishes that she turned out. In fact they sought her guidance on the choice of menu and their recipe whenever a party was held at their homes. Proud though I was I could not concede that my mom was in any way inferior.
We went on a holiday to our home in South and I was once again relishing the familiar Sambars,Vattha Kuzhambu, different types of rasams and various side dishes that my mom made with the combo different each day. My wife was telling my mom one day as I was enjoying my sumptuous lunch that though I ate the food she prepared without any complaint that I relished my mom’s food more with its own unique flavour.She asked my mother the secret of her cuisine and whether it was different from the recipe of Meenakshi ammal that she followed religiously. My mother had a hearty laugh and said “Partha has neither taste buds nor a nose for smell. He cannot distinguish between a toor dhall and chana dhall.Frequently I enlarge the left over of the previous night’s food with little more water and spices. He will eat anything that is hot without fuss. He cannot distinguish even when the food has gone a bit stale. Do not take him seriously, dear. You are lucky that you have for a husband who is not a gourmet or a fussy type. Mark my words; he would proclaim very soon that none makes such delicious food as my wife does. It is a fact too that you cook very well and tastier than me. Somehow from my young age I have never taken a liking to cooking.”
The remark about my inability to distinguish between good and bad food though left me deflated a bit, I thought it was intended to assuage my wife. But I was mighty pleased with the laudatory remark about my wife’s culinary talent. After my return to Kolkata I found there was a distinct change for the better and the food my wife made these days got the tang and taste of my home at Chennai. When I congratulated my wife she could hardly suppress the proud smile. It was one night there after when I opened the fridge to have cool water, the cat was out of the bag. I found to my dismay the racks were full of vessels containing the left over food of the previous night and the morning.


  1. dear parthasarathy,
    your post is interesting and nice.never compare the culinary skils of your mmother and wife!
    hey,you asked for it!apt image.
    keep blogging.

  2. Ha Ha..a tips for once is a tip forever:)What one can do when the other gets pleased in their own distinct way. The lady took the idea and followed it and got the desired results. But in the end what tasted best was the love that was pored into the it a mother or a tastes the same in its own distinct way:)
    Beautiful story about the ever relished taste of love...what harm does it make if the poor cat has a share in it:)!

  3. The worst thing an Indian girl can ever get is a mother-in-law who is a good cook. Men always compare their wives with their mothers. It is a universal fact... which shows their immaturity, and the lack of ability to adjust with new people.. No worries.. We women can adjust and take care of these cry babies.... ;)

    Well written... nice language... you have got a lucky wife.. and a clever mother... Waiting for more blogs...

    And thanks for dropping in... :)

  4. Finally the cat was out of the bag???? hahaha.
    anbudan aruna

  5. Your post made me recollect a funny poem that i read recently.

    A wife's poem..

    He didn't like the curry
    And he didn't like my cake.
    He said my biscuits were too hard...
    Not like his mother used to make.
    I didnt prepare the coffee right
    He didn't like the stew,
    I didn't mend his socks
    The way his mother used to.
    I pondered for an answer
    I was looking for a clue.
    Is there anything i could do
    To match his mothers shoe
    Then i smiled as i saw light
    One thing i could definitely do
    I turned around
    and slapped him tight...
    Like his mother used to!!!!

    author unknown

    Your post was as funny as this poem.

  6. first thing, i got couple of good, new words from this post ... thnak you ..

    umm it s delight to at least read the names of some those items that i havent had for few years now ...

    i think a pat on the back at the right time does wonders in the kitchen! :-)

    i think men arent too bad in kitchen ...

    you know what? i myself do a bit of this stuff ..

  7. oh those dishes made my mouth water! :)
    Loved the post.. it really made me smile!! thanks a lot!! :)

  8. Ha aha ahha!

    Very nice post sir. Gave nm a hearty laugh :-) Loved the ending!!!

  9. A good write up in lines of what happens in most homes.. the traditional taste for mom-made food Vs. the newly acquired taste for the home-made food..

    People tend to get used to a certain type of food and the taste buds long for similar tasting food - whereever one is.. And after eating the wifes style of cooking for some time, one gets used to that too...



  10. knows it all, and soon the secret ingredient got passed onto wifey!! still laughing and will be sharing this one with anil..i can totally resonate with this one!!