My mother is the coolest woman I know. This Beatle-loving parent has stood her ground and spoken her mind in the most trying of circumstances. She didn’t quite finish college but became one of India’s most respected book publishers on the strength of her will (and bloody hard work). Unlike most Indian mothers I know, she never talked to me about “settling down”. Instead, it was always about “living it up”. No matter where I was in this world, she sent me regular reminders about how having fun and being financially independent are two of the most important skills to own.
Ma’s sexy salt and pepper head of hair has ensured that I don’t waste time and money on hair dyes. Her tremendous network of lovely people has helped me plot my way through life. She single-handedly inspired my interest in food. And, she makes the best Gingerbread Man in the world. Ma can do pretty much anything she sets her mind to. And as you can probably tell, I consider my mother my personal Avenger.
So, imagine the conversation when my very own Captain Cool shrieked at me for reaching for a watermelon after dinner one night. “YOU WILL GET VAI! GET YOUR HANDS OFF THAT FRUIT.” It turns out, that my modo mum believes that this luscious fruit, which can be eaten by the kilo during the day, turns into a vicious villain at night. One bite of that watermelon and the vessels in my skin would constrict and I would be overcome with the chills. Given that her theory is based on no fact or reason, the only word I have for her is “loony” and the only term for this condition is “superstition”.
We are no strangers to superstitions in India. From the power we have conferred on green chillies and lemons to save hundreds of kilos of machinery (new cars) from accidents, to turning milk into a monster if consumed after fish (skin disease); yeh mera India is a land of food superstitions.
The loony foodies go the extra mile during celestial phenomenon such as the lunar eclipse. We abstain from all food and drink during the eclipse. In fact, we even deprive our Gods. Like all superstitions, finding a credible source for any of this is near impossible. From all the ridiculous research Google threw up, my favourite would have to be this explanation on Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev’s blog:
“ …the earth’s energy mistakes this eclipse as a full cycle of the moon. Certain things happen in the planet where anything that has moved away from its natural condition will deteriorate very fast. That is why there is a change in the way cooked food is before and after the eclipse. What was nourishing food turns into poison, it is better to keep the stomach empty at this time.”
We read some other loony food news this week. Employees of the office space giant WeWork in the US were informed that their company will no longer serve red meat, pork or poultry at company functions. Neither would it reimburse them for any such food ordered at lunch meeting or on work trips. Rajyasree Sen has a rant about this in her article WeWont Pay For Meat: The New Veggie Diktat.
In less loony news, we continue our devotion to chai in the latest episode of IFN Food Safari. This week we travel across India to find our favourite chais that make our lives just that much sweeter.