>I woke up a short while back. Suddenly wished that my grandmom, whom we call Didu, was in the kitchen making thin maida parathas or hot piping luchis (Bengali puris) and her potato subzi… tiny cubes of potatoes in a light, watery cream coloured gravy with green peas.
Legend has it that she was the only person whose cooking I’d eat when I first came to India as a spoilt, chubby sub five year old. I had very clear views on what was acceptable to eat. Her luchi chholar daal passed my muster. The pantuas (Bengali gulab jamuns) which I first looked at with suspicion when she made them at Delhi. And then finished the whole batch and made her cook more. And two or three years later those parathas which I could have eight to ten of with a bowl of ketchup.
Well I could only dream of all this on a nice wet morning in Mumbai. Didu still cooks for me, when I visit her in Calcutta, despite her ailing health. She insists on cooking for me despite my rather fake protests to the contrary. Unfortunately I had to settle for a rather sour sada dosa from the local Shiv Sagar today.
Didu is in the middle of some complex operations for her eye. Cataract, dried tear glands, boils in the eye have been added to her stomach stone, aching knees and other ailments. Yet when I call her, she signs off by asking us to stay well, ignoring the minefields that are her and my grandfather’s bodies.
Her stitches are going to be opened tomorrow. I hope there is someone to make her a nice hot breakfast.
(PS This picture was from grandpa’s 90th birthday last year for which I’d gone to Calcutta)
Update: I spoke to Didu and to my aunt earlier tonight. The bandage is off. The stitches will be take off tomorrow. The operations seems to have gone off well and Didu was her usual high spirited self. Thanks for your well wishes.
Here’s Bourdain on eating in foreign lands in his latest book, ‘Medium Raw’. Loved the grandma analogy.
“I often talk about the “Grandma rule” for travellers. You may not like Grandma’s Thanksgiving turkey. It may be overcooked and dry – and her stuffing salty and studded with rubbery pellets of giblets you find unpalatable in the extreme. You may not even like turkey at all. But it is ‘Grandma’s Turkey’. And you are in Grandma’s house. So shut the eff up and eat it. And afterwards say, “Thank you, Grandma, why, yes, yes of course I’d love seconds”