I’ve had the house to myself for weeks now, as all other inhabitants and regular visitors are summering somewhere cooler than Delhi. I didn’t accompany them because, I declared optimistically, I was Leading My Own Life. It would have been perfect except that the general exodus from Delhi took with it the cook, which means that I have had to shift for myself in the feeding department.
Now, I may be a worthless layabout in general, but I’m no slouch when it comes to surviving. I like to mix it up to keep things fresh and interesting. Not for me the rut of daily routine. Over the past many weeks I have not only dragged every friend I have to some restaurant or the other for lunch or dinner, but have also made those of them who still let me in, cook for me at their homes. I have occasionally ordered in from fine-dining establishments such as that place with the golden arches. When none of those options is available (lately everyone’s phone always seems to be switched off or they’re having to travel out of town on short notice, or my wallet looks shell-shocked) I have fallen back on good old self-reliance.
When I head to the kitchen my being is bent on creating not just gustatory art, but also the cleanest, best fuel for the body. I find cooking both enjoyable and therapeutic, especially when my favourite music is playing in the living room and my favourite wine is slopping about in a well-cut wineglass. Plus, it’s cheaper than going out. And I don’t believe in compromising on health, either.
And so, over the weeks I have spent enjoyable, therapeutic time in the kitchen concocting a variety of healthful, tasty meals. High-fibre cereal with a dash of low-fat milk; Nestle Fitnesse with Nestle Skimmed Milk; multinational breakfast food with multinational dairy product; multigrain with protein and calcium, to name a few. And that’s just the basic stuff; I’m leaving out the exquisite nuances one can give each meal by varying the amount and/or temperature of each ingredient (a little more cereal, a little less milk; a little less cereal and a little more milk; the same amount of cereal with a bit less milk… I could go on, but the cool tips and surprises will keep until my cookbook comes out).
Even the finest cook can, however, tire of her own best and safest dish, and decide to take off on the wings of fancy. Thus it was that I decided to make pasta and salad a couple of times. The first time, I threw a bunch of tomatoes in boiling water, flayed them, beat them to a pulp, burned them, and slapped them on top of slightly overdone fusilli—and voila, Pasta a la Emergency. The salad on the side was quite good, except that I think I may have left a couple of worms in the leaves when I washed them by swiping them half-heartedly under the tap, because my stomach hasn’t been the same since.
The second time was much better. I sort of forgot to shop for any stuff to put in the pasta or indeed the salad, but it was fine: I boiled pasta, scraped some butter from the fridge and bunged that in with salt, tipped some oregano flakes on top, and then hosed the bugger down with Tabasco. Yum! I’m thinking of recreating this one when I have people over to repay their hospitality, if they take my calls. They should really come over and see how little domestic support a person can get by with.
They don’t call me Renaissance Woman for nothing.