This post was written in 2011. While reading, ensure you have something to munch on.
|Mum's baked mac & cheese|
I always had a penchant for all things food. Always. I am in unwavering awe of the ability of an ingredient to tease and flatter one’s palate so ingeniously. Like with most foodies and chefs, my mum has been the biggest epicurean influence in my life. She told me that when I was little, I used to relish the simplest of things with a twinkle in my eye…things like bread & butter toast, plain Roti, Ghee Dosa and Mac & Cheese - all mom-made. This is the stuff my childhood smells of and it is heavenly! During my ‘geek years’, when I got time off my books, I would run to the kitchen and help mum sauté onions, peel garlic and give her a hand in mixing the vanilla & banana cake batter. Sometimes I’d even sneak in an additional teaspoon of spices into the curry when mum wasn't looking. Pure joy!
My other big, big influence behind this passion is the underrated and over-criticized idiot box. It all began when our cable provider added BBC Food to our channel package. Initially I was perplexed - Wow, a whole channel dedicated just to food? But I was hooked to it right from the word go! Shows by renowned chefs Ainsley Harriott, Rick Stein, Delia Smith, Madhur Jaffrey & Nigella Lawson, all made for my perfect after-school bout of entertainment. Actually, they spoilt me in a way - when it came to meals, I slowly became a pain to mum. Think about this, would you like to eat bitter gourd and roti while you're watching Delia cook up a decadent Gnocchi doused with home-grown herbs in her British kitchen? The correct answer is NO. I suddenly had more fervor for flavor and my palate was craving for a phenomenal twist in taste.
College years marked a big food lull for me. In those three years, I just ate to live. Then Australia happened. Melbourne as I had discovered was a melting pot of world culture and cuisine. From The Little Cupcake shop to Nandos’ Peri Peri Chicken to discovering Lord of the Fries and gorging on Lygon Street's famous pastas and pizzas to relentlessly munching on the Aussie TimTams and chomping Spanish Churros from Queen Victoria market, I resurfaced big time in the food zone!
I'll always look back at 2011 as the year that sparked a mini food revolution for me. Early this year, I got a marketing job in a front running hospitality company owning some big brands in the cafe and restaurant space. Thereafter, molecular gastronomy, amuse bouche, mixology have almost become daily parlance and food tastings and shoots part of the job routine. Chefs have become my heroes and my tweets now revolve around Blueberry pies and Bacon ice-cream. In my free time I browse through and ogle at the Purple Foodie and xobreakfast blogs! I also read up on the world's best fine dine restaurants and the whacky and eccentric Heston Blumenthels behind them. What’s more, I don’t dread analysing reports of how many units of organic pasta dishes were sold or how the Oktoberfest menu fared.
Of course for me the buck has never stopped at simply watching, analysing, reading or tasting. I have gotten behind the apron as well. Whenever I can, I try and create a storm in the kitchen, whizzing up little gems of my own. The successful experiments involve a peanut butter cake, strawberry-fig yoghurt with oatmeal drizzle, spinach ricotta cheese puffs, among few other delights! I'm not going to elaborate about the time I tried to bake buns - a near catastrophe & kitchen nightmare that one. Several other trials too did not see the light of day. But I'm not stopping just yet.
Paris. Rome. That's the stuff my food dreams are made of. Learning to make croissants in France and swivelling my fork on fresh pasta in Italy are items waiting to be checked off my bucket list. And I'll definitely write about it when that happens; watch this space. Meanwhile, here’s wishing you a Merry Munching!