I guess one of the biggest changes in me after nearly 2 years of marriage is that I now know what the inside of the kitchen looks like! Having spent 30 years living like a king and never wondering how food seemed to magically appear on the table at meal times and then clear itself up in time for next one, I had only a very vague idea of the workings of the home food factory. But as as all my friends loved to tell me during the many years I remained a bachelor while they made rapid progress (though some used to term it regress!) in marriage and family life, things change after marriage!! Of course, Amy was more than happy to slip quietly into the role of primary meal-maker and looking back, I guess I should have left it like that! But being the calculative Malayali that I am, I decided that cooking was a great way to gain brownie points to make up for all my wild ideas and the trouble they generally get me into! So, one fateful day, a few months into our marriage, I made the grand announcement that, starting from then, I would be in-charge of all culinary activities. Oh, what a moment of foolishness......
In the months that have since gone by, I realised that the scheme has completely backfired! Far from gaining brownie points as I had hoped, I have been losing them as I slowly woke up to the reality that cooking at the end (or the beginning) of a busy day at work is a singularly difficult occupation. Of course, on the (few) days that everything goes well, we finish early and I am not on call, it is possible to run to the shop, pick up some exciting stuff, rummage through the library of cookbooks that I have collected (ranging from The Foolproof cookbook for idiots like me to the gourmet Khana Khazana by the famous Sanjeev Kapur) and concoct a meal that does not insult the palate. But on most days, this amount of time and energy is a huge luxury and desperate measures are called for. And it is on those days that my status as family provider is seriously called into question!
In my previous post on the topic, I had described some of my shortcuts to quick and easy meals. But what does one do when there is neither time nor energy even for one of those. At the end of the day, in a town where everything (including restaurants) closes by 8 pm, staring at an empty fridge at 10 pm is one of the most depressing events of life! Amy being a woman not only of great patience, but also wisdom and sagacity, realised soon enough that my great promises of putting food on the table on a regular basis were a bit of truth bundled together with a lot of hot air. So after a few occasions of Kurkure/Aloo Bhujia/digestive biscuit and water meals, she began to come up with alternate solutions.
The most long-lasting of these was Maggi. Even now I feel like a nitwit for not having thought of that! Though it is a little embarrassing to cart large numbers of Maggi cartons home with us every time we go shopping, it has been a godsend to our eating adventures. And the best part of cooking Maggi is that not only is it quick, but it can be made in a number of different ways. Over the last 6 months or so, I have used every single ingredient in the kitchen in one combination or another as the variety of our menu (ie. things other than Maggi!) slowly regressed. Sometimes (especially when we were hungry!), these combinations were spot on. Of course, they were unrepeatable as by the next day I had totally forgotten the combination. But on many days, the offerings were discoloured, sticky blobs of matter, that could barely be identified as having originated in a Maggi packet.
But amazingly, through all this gastronomic torture, Amy has been most encouraging and supportive. Only rarely, when there has been an especially bad end result, does she pretend to not be hungry! On most occassions, she greets these disasters with great enthusiasm and makes me feel that I am Sanjeev Kapoor himself! And so I doggedly press on, in the hope that one day, my offerings to her palate will reach the standards she so richly deserves. Until that time, my best bet is to buy some shares in Maggi, for judging by our level of consumption, it is bound to be a worthwhile investment!