Food and Layers of Learning

I was harboring fear and irritation whenever Raghu asked for “interesting” food.  His kind of ‘interesting’ usually involves me going waaay out of my comfort zone.  He drools over Nigella, Masterchef, Jamie Oliver and devours cook books.

A couple of evenings ago I plunged into buying alien items like rice-paper, sesame oil and Sumac.  That evening I created a dish inspired by Nigella and some techniques i’d learnt via Masterchef.  The stuff was eaten so fast that i never managed to photograph it 🙂  I created rice paper rolls with cooked corn-rice, cooked and raw cucumber and shredded lettuce stuffing.  It was incredible.  We dunked these translucent, beautiful little parcels of semi-cooked and raw elements in 2 kinds of home-made, asian dips.

What is my point here?  Well for me this was an act of courage.  I want to honor it / myself.  I was able to be playful and relaxed while creating, nay inventing, new food while meeting Raghu’s taste, my pantry limitations, dinner rush, and all the other “perceived”obstacles.  I did keep daal and chaval on the side as a backup, just in case 🙂

So what are the layers here?  I went way beyond just creating the food.  I was able to get past the fears, irritation (why not focus on the million other things i make?… I already make many different cuisines for my gourmand-son) and learn to go with the flow.  I set an intent “to meet Raghu’s need for new foods with love and to make it happen”.  And it happened.  This intent setting business is heady stuff.  I don’t quite know when the internal shift happens… but by setting my energies in the right direction and not lingering in doubt, fears, irritation or too much left-brain analysis etc… I am happier and able to stay in the moment with love and gratitude and an open heart that says “even what you think is impossible can happen if you want it to”.  Ok… a bit dramatic… but truly… buying rice wrappers, fancy-shmancy ingredients, paying a bomb, not knowing whether they will get used fully, whether i’d make anything good with them etc… and whether the kid will eat it etc… tests my thresholds 🙂 out here in India.

For Raghu he got to see me take a dip in uncharted waters.  He, needless to say, was thrilled, cheered me on and was an enthusiastic taster while i cooked.  He spoke with me about other ingredients we can source in Pune (he wants me to cook him endives and bake Beef-pot-pies next 🙂 We spoke about why i get irritated with his frequent needs for “interesting” foods.  I shared how i feel stressed by the cost of these imported ingredients.  A simple slab of haloumi sets us back quite a bit here (haloumi being a simple, salted, Arabic cottage-cheese variety that i took for granted growing up in Abu Dhabi) or even a simple Cheddar.  And Raghu is quite the gourmand… he knows his cheeses, oils, meats, salad dressings, nut butters, etc.  But as we talked I realized…. OMG i love it.  I love how much he knows about food… his passion for new tastes and exploration.  And Ravi, dear Ravi, confirmed for me that we should just keep money for it… like we would if Raghu wanted a class.  When it comes to money and seeing it as a flowing, moving energy… Ravi is awesome and inspiring to me.

Raghu surprised Ravi and me by having boiled, salted peanuts sold by the toll booths on the way to Dharwad.  Also road-side, large watery cucumbers slit and dipped in spicy salt.  He has been adjusting to the local cuisine and eats many, many more Indian (read: ingredients are easy to procure and cheaper and more local for me) dishes these days.  But he is a ‘foodie’ and misses bagels, pretzels, well-made shawarma (tasted last in Abu Dhabi) and other international foods that we (parents who travel and work in different countries) have exposed him to since an early age.  So I move, learn, change, unfold, whisper sweet intents to the universe and the layers of learning dawn upon me everyday.


Food for thought

I’ve been meaning to write about food and what it means to us these days. Its such an important part of my children’s days and can cause them much happiness.

Raghu asked me to make this soup yesterday… i only added a tiny amount of molasses and some coriander-seed-powder besides his choices.

1. Cooked potato cubes (and the water they were cooked in)
2. Chopped onion
3. Chopped mushroom
4. Corn kernals.. fresh.
5. Diced green Bell Pepper/Capsicum
6. Grated fresh ginger
7. Pepper and salt to taste
8. tiny hint of molasses
9. pinch of coriander powder
10. Crushed Rosemary

Add water to make it as soupy as you want.
Stir fry the onions in a bit of olive oil till translucent, add the bell peppers and stir fry for a few minutes. Then add the mushroom and corn and ginger. Cook till the veggies are tender. Add the potato cubes and broth and all other ingredients.

I love trying out Raghu’s recipes. He is not into cooking himself these days. But will come up with specific recipes and usually eats happily whatever he makes. Food eaten joyously is probably good for us 🙂

Raghu and Zoya come up with wacko combinations. Raghu has had mustard and jam on bread and Zoya loves dipping chicken nuggets, fries etc in soy sauce. Raghu loves Sweet potato fries and will eat any roasted vegetable. He prefers things cooked. Very rarely will he eat raw veggies. But he will suck happily on raw garlic cloves and even eat them. he also sucks on Cinnamon sticks. Zoya is known to mix ketchup in her yogurt and rice. Yogurt and rice is a favorite around here. But only when its icecream weather.

Making new foods or old… but making them just so takes up a lot of time some days. Other days its easy. The main thing is to be able to get as close to what we each want as possible. Sometimes its perfect… sometimes a bit tweaked.

We don’t get sour cream here and raghu loves the stuff… so he uses a lot of Mayo which we do get.

Zoya can go thru tons of chocolate in a day… dark crisp cocoa variety and also brownies and home-made choc cake. She loves icecream and prefers it to any other sweet.

THe odd choices for odd times are only part of my conditioning. My kids are healthy, aware of their body-needs, quite in tune with which foods suit them and are very clear in their food-requests. Its awesome to watch it and see how much they enjoy food.

M&Ms for breakfast

I was having toast and tahini with a mug of tea for breakfast… the best breakfast almost… just missing some grapefruit slices. And Z wakes up and reaches for a hug. As i swing around to make space for a chair with her up in my arms.. she reaches out for candy sitting on a shelf. My first instinct overtook and i pulled her away. She was mad at me. I asked if she’d like milk/formula (something she still loves). And then i felt horrible. So while the rest of the day went in a whirl of activity… i could not stop that anxious feeling inside… the ‘H’ word was ringing within. What it meant and what my role was etc. And so far Raghu’s most contorversial breakfast item has been pickled gherkins or perhaps super sweet Choco milk. So Z’s latest need for chocolate/gems/smarties/M&Ms as soon as she wakes up has me in a loop. But then i remembered my wonderful mentor Sandra and voila! In 3 clicks i was at this page feeling my breathing returning to normal and feeling at peace with my children’s food choices. Thanks Sandra!