Food, Published Work, The Slow Cook

The fantastical feast

feast 934


My second post in Bangalore Mirror is about the ‘khayali pulao’ I so enjoy cooking. This is another piece I really enjoyed writing even if it doesn’t show me in the best of light.

The feast at the end of Platform  9¾

The cinnamon rolls are in the oven. There are around 12 of them in the tray, sitting snugly next to each other. They’re rising and rising and as they rise, the smell of spice and caramalised sugar wafts through the entire house.

I open the oven and they’re perfect. A crisp shade of brown on top, and soft and moist in the centre, it’s time to let them rest on a cooling rack before pouring the sugary glaze all over them.

But I really can’t wait to take a nibble. So I do. They’re perfect and soft and gooey just like I imagined they would be when I was reading the recipe.

Oh wait. I’m still reading the recipe. The rolls are a distant dream. Time to turn the page. Ah… fillet mignon with sage and another food fantasy to seep into… heaven.

I’m still no closer to being a real life masterchef. However, I am having a whole lot of fun visualising the journey. A look at my Pinterest board and the cookbook nook on my shelf is proof that I collect recipes just as efficiently as I do literature. And strangely enough, I’m not ashamed of it!

Some of my first memories of childhood include images of swans and mermaids and a little boy with a twisted hand. Maybe that last image is well, really a figment of my imagination, but it doesn’t change the fact that my mind finds it easier to retain pictures and colours than just plain factual text.

I love a good story. Any story really – true or fantastical — so long as I can visualise it clearly in my mind’s eye. Some might call it unfortunate, because this means that my reading habits have spoiled a few real-life experiences for me. Like finding a naughty billionaire, taking a train out of Kings Cross and cooking a beautiful dinner, to name a few.

I was lucky enough to learn at an early age that the juicy romance novels I read as a teenager were even more unrealistic than self-spelling wands. But even more disappointing was my discovery that warm scones drenched in butter or even porridge cooked “Just right” wasn’t as mouth watering as the storybooks made them seem.

This also includes my time in the kitchen, or lack thereof, which is actually a time when reality comes flying at my face in the form of a counter stained with flours, oils and herbs and a sink full of dirty dishes. Most times I’m quite content being an imaginary chef even if I divide my career between the occasional practical and the perpetual fantasy.

But I do think the time is approaching for me to change my ways. I have to step out of those food mirages and into the reality of what it truly takes to be the master of my own kitchen. It will be quite an effort at first for someone as lazy (there, I admitted it) as I. But it’s time to start smelling the cinnamon rolls because they’re actually inside the oven rather than inside my head.

I guess the discipline to cook is like a muscle. You just have to start taking it for a walk if you want it to run a marathon. Maybe I just need to stop seasoning imaginary fish and season fish already. But not today. There’s a feast at the end of platform 9¾ I really need to attend.

Here’s a link to the original post published in Bangalore Mirror on June 27.

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