This is not about the latest movie starring Aishwarya Rai. I do not like her much and I rarely watch her movies.
This post is about someone more beautiful than Ash --- my mother. This is about the magic she has been weaving with her box of spices.
I must admit here. I do not know how to cook. I could manage to keep you from starving, that too if I ran out of money to take you out to dinner. I make great coffee, good homemade chocolate and I can cook rice. And there my culinary expertise ends. All my mother's efforts to make me learn have been futile. I guess I am not very domesticated.
The point here is that I have always been fascinated by the little spice box in our kitchen. Earlier we had this round aluminum box with little containers inside to hold the different spices. Today we have a steel one. The smells remain, the wiff of cinnamon drifts out as soon as I open the box, just like it used to.
I have not been abroad but I have tasted different cuisine, each good, each beyond comparison. I have always felt that it is wrong to compare the cuisine of different places, because your food will always be the best to you. What fascinates me about my food is the colours and the smells. Each spice is essential. A pinch here gives that extra tang, a pinch less and you could spoil the dish. I have always felt that cooking is nothing short of magic. How else can you account for the way a few ingredients are blended in so fine a way that a beautiful creation comes forth to cure the eyes, the ears, the tongues.
They say every family has a secret for that perfect recipe, a secret to make the perfect idlis, soft and puffy, a secret for the right consistency of the saaru. The box of spices play their magic, differently, for every generation of mistresses of spices. The boxes carry these secrets inside. It is up to the lady to unravel the mysteries, to take in the wiffs, to feel the touch and breathe in the smell and solve the mystery. This can be done, as ma always says, with love. Love for life, love for cooking and love for the people you cook for. I cannot wait to discover, to unravel the smells and feast on the colours.
I just have to learn to cook now. Only then will all this be possible. And that is not a very heartening prospect, sadly!