Our lives are inextricably bound with food and not just because it is one of the three basic needs of humans. If we are not actually eating it, we are looking at and drooling over pictures of delectable dishes; or remembering nostalgic moments when a loved one had fed us with an engaging tale – perhaps peppered with food! Or eating a feast at a celebration, festival or wedding; or snuggling under blankets with our comfort food on a cold and rainy day; or even giving it up on a fast!
Our very memories are flavoured by the smells of food. Come to think of it, there doesn’t seem to be a place or time when food in some form or the other isn’t present. Why, even the temple has prasad, for heaven’s sake!
Talking of prasad, many temples in India have specific items served as prasad. Who hasn’t heard of the humongous laddoos of Tirupati with their wonderful flavour of cloves and bits of sugar candy? Did you know that there is a temple in Tamil Nadu where all prasad is made without salt? It is the Oppiliyappan temple near Kumbakonam. When I had visited the temple some years back, I was told at the gate that no salted item was to be taken into the temple! Was it for health reasons I asked and was told a legend about Vishnu and Lakshmi. I will tell you that one and some others too, in a later post. Modern health pundits have declared salt to be the cause of a host of ailments.
Custom or legend, our ancestors were certainly more health and nutrition conscious than we are today even with all the information overload, ostensibly ‘educating’ us on the subject. What is more, they did it without making a song and dance about it – be it the wholesome ingredients they used, the way they cooked and the vessels they used for cooking and eating. Their earthy wisdom ensured the right diet for every age group. Fasting and feasting were regulated through festivals and vrats and of course these had their special foods to go with them which took into consideration the season the festival fell in. Even fasting had special foods once the fast was broken!
So when I thought of a theme for this column, it was a no-brainer. No, I wouldn’t be writing about food per se, but it would lead to food sooner than later. There will be nostalgic titbits, info about customs and traditions connected to food, the wisdom of our ancestors peppered with my own gyan related to eating. I will also share some traditional recipes and tips as we go along.
And oh, please bear with me if I occasionally go off on a ‘In the good old days…’ litany. I promise I will try not to bore you!
The author is your regular neighborhood granny. Loves cooking, feeding her friends and family, telling tales and reading children’s books among others — on her Kindle. She is comfortable with people her age, older than her and of course all youngsters right down to infants. And oh, she is in tune with the times too. She has seen the telegram transform into Twitter and telephone into WhatsApp. You could call her Gadget Granny Seeta, if you like. She loves saying that the tip of her tongue is in the fingers on her keyboard!