A Tale of Beetroot, Sushi, and Pidi

“Do you want?” the lady asked me.

I stared at the box in her hand.

“What is it?” I asked.

She gave me a weird look. “Pomegranate.”

Pomah… pomah what? Such a strange word.

“Do you want?” she shook the box.

“To eat?” I was confused. This didn’t look like food. It was too beautiful, too delicate looking. It was like jewellery; shiny and pink, capturing light like a diamond. It would make such a lovely necklace.

“Aama,” Yes, she laughed.

And so I picked up one or two arils and placed them on my tongue.

It didn’t taste of anything.

I held one aril between my teeth and bit down on it.

Gently a tiny amount of juice squeezed out and stained my tongue.

I wrinkled my nose. I liked the juice but I did not like the seed.

“More?”

And I nodded. I did not like it but it was pink and it was beautiful and that was all that mattered.

Photo courtesy Antara Bhargava on Behance

 

I looked at the vegetable suspiciously.

“It’s pink so I’ll eat it,” I told my father.

I mixed it with the rice and as I watched the rice become pink I fell in love.

Beetroot was magic.

Bright pink rice existed. The world was a wonderful place.

Photo courtesy Awai

I was eleven years old when I had sushi for the first time.

I had dreamt about it for years. Sushi. Perfect beautiful sushi that anime made me crave.

I did not love it but I did not hate it either.

It was alright.

And yet I keep craving it. I want seaweed. I want sticky rice. I want fish. I want wasabi. And I want them all together.

I have only had sushi thrice after that but I want it all the time.

That same month I had oyster for the first time.

I cautiously held the shell to my mouth, tipped my head back and black slime slid down my throat.

Never again, I decided.

Illustration by Aanchal Thapa

I don’t know how old I was when I piled my plate with a vegetable that looked like fried potato and said, “This is brilliant! What is it?”

“Banana.”

“Haha, very funny,” I rolled my eyes at my father. “Ammachi, what is it?”

“It’s banana stem.”

“Wait! Papa’s telling the truth?!”

“I always tell the truth,” Papa says,

I love banana stem but if anyone apart from my grandmother makes it, it’s weird.

A few years later my other grandmother made a Malayali dish called Pidi that my mother used to love as a child but my father cannot bear.

Pidi basically consists of small rice balls which are a lot like rice dumplings. Some people have it plain but we have it with a coconut based chicken curry and my grandmother’s curry is amazing. Somehow, the chicken is always softer and more tender than the chicken in any restaurant. The gravy is milky; both spicy and mild at the same time, neither too thick nor too watery.

Since that day, we have made Pidi at home many times.

I am dying for Pidi right now and it isn’t there so I am trying to make do with biscuits and potato chips. It’s not helping very much.

One day I want to eat blue rice. I want to eat wild boar that looks exactly like the pictures in Asterix and Obelix. I want to eat crème brulee. I want to eat Japanese street food. I want to eat Asam Laksa. I want to eat white chocolate mousse. I want to eat a marshmallow cake.

I’m going to stop now or I might just eat my laptop.

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Shefali Mathew

Shefali likes dogs, Harry Potter and anything blue. 

Latest posts by Shefali Mathew (see all)

Shefali Mathew

Shefali likes dogs, Harry Potter and anything blue. 

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