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