I grew up in the era when fruits and vegetables appeared on the table only when they were supposed to, that is when they were in season. (Yes, I’m that old.) They were as sun-kissed and succulent as Nature meant them to be. Scientists had no role to play, neither in enhancing their flavours and shelf life nor in their aesthetic appeal. Grandmothers did that.
Their gnarly hands easily understood measure and method and their sharp senses could gauge taste and texture effortlessly. All creating food that was a blend of sifted wisdom steeped in years of experience. Each recipe passed down from the generations before; each one not just tried and tested but tweaked and transformed in a manner that the fresh produce always was the hero.
Those grandmothers wrote the original story of food. Food scientists and corporations, I believe have over the years, just scripted a conspiracy with their mutations.
But, like most evolutionary journeys, this one too appears to be coming a full circle. Part self-realisation, part influence, we are gradually but surely moving towards foods of our ancestors.
As author, blogger and cook Bethany Kehdy says, food, rather whole foods, is a conversation starter, its varied nuances making its grammar (read her interview). Taking it out of the realm of the so-called purists who believe food should be a product of an algorithm not a delicious piece of art, Bethany has succeeded in decoding and demystifying it for those who are overwhelmed by its many complexities.
As we celebrate Eid next weekend, let food be the glue that brings together not just loved ones over a pot of steaming biryani, but gives it context as well. After all what is a wisp of spicy aroma if it does not remind you of celebrations and times gone by?