My favourite things – Day 6: A hot meal

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Day 6 : A hot meal

The next thing on my list of favourites is a hot steaming delicious meal!!

Image courtesy of Alanna Taylor Tobin | The Bojon Gourmet

Here I have a special emphasis on the temperature of the food being consumed. I really love to devour into a plate of food that is sizzling or steaming; essentially straight from the wok or oven!

Having been a foodie since I can remember, food in general is a BIG love of mine 🙂 People who have known me since childhood remember me as being a kid with food and eating always on my mind – and this is a consistent part of me even now. But within this love for food in my mind are some slight finicky requirements which are essential for me to enjoy food to the maximum extent. And while flavours, salt balance, colour and aesthetics of food are important to me just like to others, the temperature of the food is also a consideration I have.

The joy of having food which has just been cooked and served to you is unparalleled. Barring desserts of course, all other food items that we eat, I prefer to eat them just after they are done cooking. I could definitely blame my mother and my grandmother for spoiling me on this habit since they were the ones to provide this kind of steaming hot food to me since my childhood – but hey it has been drilled in my system, and is here to stay now 😛 And in fact I am thankful to them for introducing to me a way in which the taste and nutritional value of food emerges out to be the highest!

An ultimate scene of enjoyment of food in my mind would be this kind of a hot meal in cold surroundings i.e. primarily during rains or winter! Be it breakfast or lunch or dinner or even a casual snack. Be it a simple meal of roti with vegetables and dal, or an elaborate one with several courses, it is undoubtedly enjoyed the best when it is served to you in a steaming state. The sight of steam erupting from the food contributes to not just its aesthetic appeal, but also makes it very appetizing for me! Digging into food while its’s hot leads you to be a part of a mini struggle while balancing its temperature and the one suitable for your mouth – and I absolutely enjoy it. The mini juggle of sorts, adjusting portions of food so that they don’t burn your tongue  – all are little parts of enjoying hot food – and I so love it!

It is exactly this kind of obsession with having food hot that makes me dislike carrying lunches to work. The thought of eating food that has been wrapped inside a claustrophobia inducing tiffin box/packet, with all it’s freshness lost, with a small amount of dehydration having set in, and mostly – GONE COLD, is a major turn-off for me! I carry lunch to work only because convenience and the nutritional and taste value of home cooked food is still a high enough factor 🙂 Sometimes you have to choose convenience and nutrition over your itsy bitsy definitions of perfect enjoyment!

We are taught to say a prayer and thank God for the food we eat before any meal. It is something that we do since we start talking. Since growing up, I have a personal addition to this prayer for a hot meal. In addition to thanking the Almighty for giving us the food, I also thank Him for letting me enjoy the luxury of having it hot and steaming 😉

The weekend cracks in soon. For all those who have to eat cold lunches throughout the week, you won’t have to do so for the next two days at least! If you are like me, wishing you more of hot meals your way – Bon appetit!

 

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The New York Maple syrup

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I had a chance to visit the beautiful New York city during a conference last year in summer. It was the first time that I was visiting the US. For an Indian generation where most of us have either been to the US for work, or studied there, or are living there, or are married to people who live there; my first visit actually happened quite late in life since I don’t fall into any of the above categories. I had somehow heard a lot more stories about the West coast from relatives and friends and my better half, making the eastern side slightly elusive for me. And when I asked my father what I should get from there, his answer was to try to get something that’s original and uniquely made in that region. Indeed for me a bigger element of interest in any city is its traditional practices more than what urbanized modern day routines have done to it. And thus began my quest to look for something ‘Made in USA’ and representative enough of the east coast and New York. A few suggestions by friends led me to the Maple syrup. Over generations it’s made through tapping of Maple trees. The cold and warm weather cycles in this region enable its production. Though originally from Canada I guess, this syrup in made extensively in different parts of this region; and a couple of locals told me about region-wise compositions from different parts of north east America and Canada. The maple syrup is a smooth sweet unique accompaniment to food. It is rich, it is full of substance, and it has a very unique taste that’s unmatched with any other. Mind you it’s loaded with calories and so consuming it definitely comes with a fair share of deposit to your pre (or non) existing fat. Simply put, it has a unique awesomeness that comes with a maintenance price. And that is why this food item completely represents NYC in my mind.

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The World Trade Center

The uniqueness of the Maple syrup parallels that of New York. Tall skyscrapers in Manhattan bearing the hundreds and thousands of offices. The busy New York Penn station. The equally busy but more charming Grand Central station. Thousands of ambitious working people thronging to these stations. A fashionable working class in definition. Lots of passionate street artists. The elegantly marked streets and avenues. It is GRAND!  There’s an age independent representation of glamour, fashion and ambition to the working people here. Whether it’s the people or the architecture, the message with NY is clear – You better be awesome enough to fit in here!! Take the efforts to be awesome and full of quality, and the city will shower you with success. And that’s what the Maple syrup also conveys. This syrup adds a beautiful taste to toasts, waffles, desserts, fruits, even salads! But only if you add it to the right kind of ingredients. Do not expect the maple syrup to rectify and beautify any messed up combination of foods – it demands a check on the composition and quality of ingredients before contributing to addition of taste. And just like that you should not expect NY to accept anything less than the most grand and classy!!

We use the Maple syrup often in the kitchen. And every drop of it makes me think of NYC. Among the many souvenirs that I got from there, this is the only one that gives me a feeling of bringing back a part of NYC with me 🙂 In a slightly unconventional use of the phrase, may I say NYC has surely made a way to my heart through the stomach 🙂

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View from the Empire State Building