Food is one of the greatest and simplest pleasures in our unpredictable lives. But just like a pianist depends on his fingers for every masterful composition, we living creatures depend on our teeth for the process of consumption. Actually, add tongue and nostrils to the mix for without the sense of smell and the sensors in our palette, we wouldn’t even taste our food.
A while ago, I made the fatal mistake of biting into an ultra-hard dried date (beware of them if you value your teeth) and one of my front teeth (or anterior as my dentist likes to say) got fractured under the impact. In the battle between food and your teeth, occasionally food wins. And that’s never good news for a foodie like me.
How I wish I could do that!
Because for two weeks, until I get a shiny new fake tooth, I’m unable to bite anything that isn’t completely soft and mushy. Hello, sorry world of soups and gruel. Goodbye, crusty pizzas and caramel nougat bars.
But a hungry tummy and starved taste-buds demanded that I rise up to the challenge and devise yummy treats that didn’t involve much more than swallowing. The last time I had a proper milkshake was when I was in school. But now I knew, those days would have to be revisited once again.
While sticky foods are a no-no for those cursed with broken teeth, foods that melt in the mouth can definitely be relished. So say yes to cheese, shrikhand, curd and ice-cream. Buttermilk, dal, juices, custard, crème brulee and completely mashed pav bhaji can also be easily consumed. For a fuller meal, have thick soup made of steamed, pureed vegetables and over-cooked khichdi or Pongal. Badam kheer or coconut payasam is also a good idea. Meat lovers will have to make do with the taste of stock.
Surviving on chew-free food has been a revelatory journey of sorts. I’ve discovered that anything made of rava (such as sheera and soft upma) can be had with minimal chewing. I’ve also re-discovered the virgin taste of steamed, mashed vegetables like beetroot, carrots, beans and drumstick innards. Just this afternoon, I found toothless food manna in the Maharashtrian pithla (besan curry). And how can I forget that chocolates are still within the realm of possible eatables?
But I must admit, I ruminate over the simple joys of masticating and the myriad textures of crusty, crumbly breads and cookies more often than I’d like. I catch myself watching random strangers bite into a whole apple with abject envy. And I wonder why I had to have that date on that wretched Thursday.
* Cue the Vicco Vajradanti toothpaste ad showing an old man bite into a sugarcane with gusto *