One evening, I was lolling on the sofa, watching The Flash with utter concentration, when in crept a little something that grabbed all my attention in the blink of an eye. Or should I say ‘in a whiffy’, just as in ‘in a jiffy’, for that was exactly what it was – a whiff of freshly-cooked food from the kitchen, that wafted in through the door and captured all my attention while The Flash receded to the background.
Yes, you guessed right. I’m all set to talk food today. As far as my experience goes, everybody loves food; some people more than the others. Even in this age of ‘size zero’, when at least half the women in my circle of acquaintances and friends are obsessed with slimming down by abstaining from their favourite meals, while becoming increasingly dependent on drinks and cigarettes, food is still the most favourite topic of discussion in any gathering. From the sharing of information regarding the quality of food at the newest restaurant in town to the hunting for new recipes to try, food has never been out of fashion as a subject of discussion. I am one of those people who absolutely love food and the variety associated with it. It isn’t just the food either; I love everything associated with a dish, like the whole process of preparing it, the elements (read spices) used and the amount in which they are used, the colours and flavours associated with a dish, the stories and memories related to it and above all the person who prepares it – what she thinks, how she thinks, her signature styles and procedures and more often than not, what she talks about while cooking, if she happens to have people around her. I love observing people as much as I love observing nature, and though I might not be a great observer, I’m at least a patient one. My observations feed my imagination; that is exactly why I always have so many stories to tell, though I do not always have a patient or interested listener to share them with.
I find it really intriguing to watch people while they cook – their individuality is never more apparent than while they are busy in preparing a dish. I insist on calling it ‘preparing’ rather than cooking, because cooking, more often than not, is only a small part of this entire process. It also is the least time-taking, in many cases.
To come back to the topic we started with, I love every smell that I even remotely associate with cooking. There’s the smell that wafts out of the kitchen while my mom mixes spices to powders while making a batter; it makes me expectant- not until I get my hands on the prepared dish, can I concentrate on anything else. Then there’s the wholesome smell of fresh fish being fried- it never fails to increase my appetite. There is also the smell of cottage cheese when it’s being prepared. I literally start dreaming of all the fantastic dishes that can be prepared using cottage cheese. My personal favourite, only because one ought to have a favourite, is the kebab prepared with spices. And then there’s the smell of processed and dried fish, that’s enough to make a person lose consciousness- it’s that horrid. But as soon as it is put into oil, along with sliced onions and spices, it magically transforms into a dish that’s worth killing for.
The days when I’m at home while my mom prepares a variety of dishes or the days when I prepare some myself, are the happiest of my life. These dishes constitute the smell of happiness.