In those initial years after coming to US, I didn’t pay much attention to certain things around me-Perhaps I was too busy getting acquainted with the life here,too busy getting myself adjusted to the everyday chores that I was not habituated to do …But all those times I went back home,Mom’s cooking tasted ever so heavenly and finger-lickingly scrumptious…Nothing struck a bell except the obvious facts like I have missed this food so much and there’s nothing like Mom’s food !! And I continued to nurture these beliefs up until the time when I had some relatives over in our place from India..They were quick to point out to the fact that certain things tasted so much different here than in India..Different as in tasteless..Certain vegetables which we use in our daily meals in India had no taste here..The chicken tasted “ different “ not being freshly-cut and such..That opened my eyes to a lot of things …more precisely,to lots of thoughts linking up to the days of our childhood.
When it comes to vegetables and fruits,you can get everything nowadays all year round,even in India..although this was not the case even a few years back.And which seemed a big difference to me when I came here.I used to tell Ma about the different vegetables that I can get here ,irrespective of the month or the season and their sheer sizes..Peeling garlic is almost fun here due to the bigger sizes of the cloves !! I thought of all the frustrations and troubles Ma must have gone through when she wanted to prepare some dish and found out that the vegetable was not yet in the market or is too much priced due to being in the start of it’s season ….
But this spell was broken a little when I realized that food didn’t taste as good as I’m used to having it..I’m preparing the exact same recipe but still I couldn’t do it like Ma - Well,obviously I’m far from being as good a cook like my Ma…and although everything here is fatter ,bigger,fresher and easier to get ….there’s that factor of faster,better and mass production which changes the taste and value of certain things..
And then,there’s no one to wave the magical wand on them..How can something,even organic for that matter ,taste as good as home..if there’s no dad to go out on Sunday mornings to get the fresh-cut mutton from the butcher,or the vegetables from the bazar …or on Tuesday evenings,on his way back home from office..stopping by the “ haat “ and picking up a few good stuff ???
It’s those things-smells of Ma’s cooking,sights of dad’s grocery bags, realizing those toils of our parents, those childhood days,those memories which seemed routine when they were present but seems so magical,now that they are a part of the non-existent past - those things,that serve as the ultimate enhancers.
( I added a photo of Jamrul/Bell fruit from Ma’s garden – See how they beam in the sun,those babies !! )