Posted on June 29, 2010

Oviya Govindan:

Food is essential for survival. But there are those times in life when you wish it wasn’t so much of a necessity. Then you could do so many other things in the time you waste in eating food!

Of course some food can be super delicious, finger licking-lip smackingly so! Those are the only reason I tolerate the chore of eating. Occasionally one is subjected to torture (yes torture!) by being forced to gobble the dishes one detests whole-heartedly.

Now I was never a wimp, but if there was one thing that was sure to terrify me it was dinner time as a family. Ah! The anxiety and miserable feelings I have had, on being forced to shove food down my throat even when I was sure I was beyond filling capacity. The nasty smelling raddish; onion raitas whose onions I could never bring myself to eat; the onions and tomatoes and even curry leaves(!!!) of dishes, I am  insisted upon to eat.

The agony of it all brings me nightmares even now. Okay that was an exaggeration. But I did have a nightmare of being forced to eat and eat and eat that I burst! That was early in the 8th grade, but the memory remains fresh you know. My mum would very craftily try methods to somehow trick me into eating those ‘things’. This inspired me over the years to devise methods to counter my mum to somehow eat those not-so-nice fares.

Of course it would have been simpler and more adventurous to think up clever ways to dispose of the food. But that would mean disrespect to the food, God Forbid, and disrespect to the one who cooked it. Plus in many cases, other than when you are just forced to take in more quantity (which I heartily disapprove of) the seemingly disgusting food supposedly has those vital nutrient thingies.

So eating is beyond debate. The only question here is how… My policies (!) revolve around the belief that shoving food you loathe down your throat need not always be a distressing act. The trick is to make it wacky, cool and fun!

Beetroots it is claimed, have lots of iron content, etc etc. But there was a point when their very presence at the dining table was unbearable. Audacious even. Tackling them was through the age old tablet method. Take water. Take beetroot pieces. Shove piece in mouth. Swallow with water. Care must of course be taken not to choke on the pieces and most importantly to do this out of sight of adult supervision.

Now greens on the other hand are slimy things. It’s all well to act brave like Popeye and say ‘I yam what I yam’ but the moment you try to carelessly toss the spinach into your mouth, your hands freeze and well, you just can’t go through with it. In such cases, it would be best to take a leaf out of the book of guerilla warfare. Camouflage…

Little bits of the dish between huge chunks of something else will get you through any traumatizing vegetable.

Hmm… we’re going strong so far.

But how does one tackle those infinitely boring menus like those at the mess? The ones that one is forced to eat for days on end. The same Sambar, Rasam, Curry. You can’t camouflage anything because all the dishes are equally repulsive and repetitive. Best attempt would be to make it adventurous by trying out weird and exotic combinations. Like paapad crushed in rice with sugar. Or Sugared curd rice. Or pickle flavored Sambar-rice (Eek. I haven’t tried this one!) Or sugar syrup mixed with curd rice… Well the sky is yours. Remember Ratatouille. Anyone can cook.

Oh and the best trick of the trade yet – the retarded eating technique. Given a plateful of rice that you’re sure you can’t finish. Take the morsels of rice – ONE BY ONE. Chew well. Snide comparisons to the cow chewing the cud are welcome. But never give up. Take the spoonfuls of rice and eat like you’re in slow motion – cock your head sideways put some rice in; let some of it fall out on to the plate ( or if possible, the table). Or better still, take the spoonful, bring close to mouth, give a silly laugh <Gee Gee.. Hee Haw!>

This is failure proof and alarms your parents and friends; scares the daylight out of siblings. Now you can enjoy the ruckus you’ve created while the food goes in too.

In life, situations overwhelm and you feel like there’s no respite. But you will always find that in moments of deepest agony you can find greatest amusement. What is important is to remember that ‘From here to there and there to here, funny things are everywhere‘ You only need to know how to look for them…Then all will be well!!!

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