Yes, I am back and yes, I was away and yes, I didn’t bother informing you all. But then I never planned on being away this long. I always thought I will put all that swirls around my head into a coherent post tomorrow,but somehow that tomorrow never came. Until today. After a year and half of my blogging life, I have realized that I am not very good at gelling my real life to my virtual one. That’s just it. Eventually, I may make more of an effort to do it. But, the past 3 months, I couldn’t get myself out of the inertia. There was no lack of material, though. As it is with family visiting, there was never a lack of food moments. Good food, family, serious discussions, lots of advice, spoilt kids, tears, laughs, joy, anger, exasperation …essentially all the hallmarks of a parental visit.
Although, for all the sentimental moments we had, the one moment that will always stick out in our minds is the Sushi episode. Let me lay some ground work for you. My in-laws, two people in this world, for whom konkani food is the beginning and end of their food journey. At the most they will go for restaurant fare of the Indian variety, once in a blue moon when there really is no choice, provided their next meal is staunchly amchi with lots of coconut or at least fried stuff thrown in. Enter a grown-up son with two kids of his own, who decides that it is time for the parents to expand their culinary horizon. So, every Friday evening, he decides to introduce a new cuisine to his parents. Also, adding some background noise and color are two toddlers who are delighted at eating out every weekend and a bemused daughter-in-law who is not sure what side she is on. And there were sides drawn as early as the first week, when a visit to the Italian restaurant with salads and pasta was enough for the FIL to know he didn’t ever want to eat out in the US again.
“Where’s the salt and chilli?”
“What’s so great about noodles in tomato soup?”
“Uh, Dad. That’s Spaghetti in Marinara sauce. And you can add some chilli flakes to it, if you want.”
So, every Friday, I watched them mentally ready themselves to eat a meal they were not really going to like just because the much-loved son wanted them too and they didn’t really have the heart to say no in face of such enthusiasm. In coming weeks, we covered Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, US-Indian. And then it was turn for the Japanese steakhouse. Here I must clarify that though the parents wouldn’t touch meat or poultry, they are great seafood lovers. The problem is seafood made amchi style is hot, hot and more hot. Obviously, our restaurant fare in any cuisine wasn’t. By now, the parents had come to the stage where they had decided that ignorance is not bliss and knowing about the kind of food to expect was a better thing. So,
Father : ” My Dear Son, what it is that is different in Chinese and Japanese cuisine? We already had Chinese, so can we not skip Japanese?”
Much-Loved Son (MLS) : “But Appa, you have to try Sushi!”
Mother : “Dear much-loved son, pray what be this sushi?”
Much-loved Son (with all the enthusiasm of a person talking to seafood and rice lovers): “Appa, Amma, it is fresh fish and rice all rolled together. It is really good, the fish is really fresh, they slice it thin and serve it with soy dipping sauce and wasabi which is hot, so you won’t even miss the chilli and the salt.”
Mother (Hopefully): “Really much-loved son, that doesn’t sound bad”
Father (not convinced) : “How do you know it is fresh?”
Much-loved son : “Appa, you know it is fresh because otherwise raw fish would stink”
Father and Mother (much outrage) : “Raw fish!!??!!! ”
Father : “Puttar, All these “paschatya sanskriti” (western culture) is getting to your head. Raw fish! What next?”
Much-loved son (much confused) : “But Appa, Japan is in the far east. What western culture?”
Mother (sad) : “Oh, how much you have changed, my much-loved son.”
The bemused DIL : “Why don’t I make some Dalitoy and Batata song for today?”
Hugs and kisses from Father and Mother and much glaring from the much-loved son to his once-much-loved wife later, we were wolfing down mirchi bajji’s from the local Indian restaurant along with the dalitoy and batata song. Of course, much-loved son wasn’t giving up. See, he is the kind of person that believes that if the horse doesn’t come to the well, then we have to bring the well to the horse. So next day, he visited the steakhouse and convinced them to let him take their sushi to go. Upon coming home, the much-loved son presented the sushi to the much harassed parents, who promptly retired to their room. Much hilarity ensued when the much-loved son, holding a piece of sushi in chopsticks, chased the parents around the house imploring them to give it a try and the parents, fed up of the gastronomical injustice being done to their soft palates, just announced in their most desperate voice,
“Anything for you, much-loved son, but raw-fish.”
“And half cooked vegetables.”
“And that blasted tofu.”
The much-shocked much-loved son came to a stand still and the parents taking advantage of the moment decided to go British on him and locked themselves in separate rooms.
[THUD] went the bemused daughter-in-law who fell on the floor doubling up with laughter.
[AHHHHHH,OOOOOOHHHHH] went the excited toddlers who thought the grandparents and dad were playing tag.
[chomp,chomp] went the much-loved son wolfing down the sushi.
[sigh, sigh] went the parents in total relief.
I now have visions of our old-age, visiting my son on Mars, going
“Anything for you, much-loved son, but food capsules”
“But, amma, they taste just like sushi…”