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Yellow Moods

30 March 2006 1 comment

Come summer and each one of us looks forward to the day when it will get over. To a little extent, I await the bright sunny days for one reason. It is the season of India's favourite fruit and this post is inspired by this article (aptly titled 'The Mango Fool') on the Sunday Express. This year, a few weeks back, when we were at our favourite juice shop in Mhow, I noticed the menu showing mango. I inquired eagerly despite the fact that we could not see any mangoes displayed and I was disappointed to hear him saying "the menu is a fixed one".

Mango is of course India's national fruit and the most popular by a big margin. One curious fact about it is that the etymology of the word reveals that its origin is the Tamil "maangaai". There are so many varieties of mango and the very word mango makes my mouth water. I have a fascination for raw mango that goes back to my school days in Thoothukudi when the mandatory nextdoor shop to our school stocked pieces of raw mango. I prefer eating it plain, rather than mix it with salt or masala, as is eaten in true Indian style. At home, we would await our Appa's shopping trip eagerly for the mangoes he gets for us. At lunch and supper, mangoes used to go well with the food.

I like the 'Kilimooku' variety better than the Malgoa. I also like to eat it without peeling the skin, after reading that fibres are good for health 😉 There were plenty of mango trees in our vicinity. Sadly they were all forbidden areas and kids liks us were not allowed to pluck them. Who cared? I can vouch for the statement 'stolen mangoes are the tastiest ones'. Talk about ethics. We used to jump into a particular house whose inmates would be sleeping in the afternoon and pluck those ripe and raw 'kilimooku' mangoes silently. The share would be done equitably and we would taste the mangoes as a bunch with borrowed salt and knives. Frooti was one early mango drink and what a hit it was. It is almost synonymous to the mango juice carton category. Maaza and Slice followed.

My schoolmates in Class 11/12 always teased me with "Masakkai" as I was the single largest consumer of raw mango pieces. We used to sit at the Keezhur railway station, observing the girls of the adjacent school, till the station master complained about us to our headmaster. In any case, there are hardly any trains that come to Thoothukudi. It was around that time when Sharon juice shop opened near the Thoothukudi Municipal office, very near to the 'Pazharasam (a Thoothukudi specialty) Paulraj' shop and our schoolmates were early patrons of the shop. The shop introduced a whole new range of shakes like the Sharjah shake (my friend here tells me it's the Kozhikode guys who invented all these shakes) and got us hooked. In spite of such shakes, nothing comes closer to home-made mango juice made by Amma's hands.

In Guindy, we had the Classic or some such name Mallu juice shop just next to the IIT which was our haunt for juices and omelettes late in the night.Why am I saying all this? In Indore last week, I discovered the mango shake when we were out on our survey. Now it is there in Mhow too. A few days back, I had the mango shrikhand, another North Indian dish – very very tasty and aam pak – a mix of mango and rabdi (the milk-based sweet). I cannot now think of anything except mango when I will reach Madras by this Monday. Mangoes for lunch, mangoes for dinner and mango shakes to quench my thirst this summer – I gonna have a great time. I will be double glad if you provide me new recipes that I can ask Abi to prepare.

Categories: Food

Why Indians love to eat out…

17 February 2006 7 comments

Here’s my take on why I think we guys love spending our money at hotels, restaurants, fresh juice shops, fast food joints and the like.

  1. Split personality effect: KFC estimates about 30 to 40% of Indians are vegetarians. There are a lot of Brahmins and other folks who won’t or can’t have meat inside their homes. In short, they are herbis inside and carnis outside. To satisify their desires and their buds, all they got is the eateries.
  2. GDP effect: Indians, led by the great Amartya Sen, are very good at developmental economics. They are fully aware that if my Amma cooks and I eat at home, there is no addition to the GDP for her culinary skills (which I bet are out of the world, like any son) whereas when I eat outside I contribute to the GDP. The multiplier effect of each son, who thinks likewise, contributes about half the revenues of all these institutions.
  3. Migratory effect: Rising urbanisation and better opportunities for speaking/typing more leads to increasing power in the purses of this generation Indians and a higher floating population. A judicious mix of these two factors results in the eating out phenomenon.
  4. Relativity effect: All of us know Einstein’s famous theory about the time difference when you sit next to an intoxicating girl and when you put your hand into a fire if you were a kid that never grew up. We would rather spend our precious time in watching a match or the never-ending serial than cooking. In fact, the cooking is okay but the thought of having to wash the utensils puts us off.
  5. Google effect: Every self-respecting netizen is aware of Google’s mission – to organise all the world’s info and make it accessible and useful. That makes it easy for me to find restaurants across the globe and for the chefs to find exotic recipes. The poorman’s pizza in Italy gets a new life as a premium snack everywhere else. I have had the stylishly named granita in another name and at a much cheaper price back home.
Categories: Creative, Food, Society