Mum has left town this week so it’s time to play house-house again. I know what you’re thinking – how hard is it for a grown woman to manage a house? It’s not. What is difficult for a grown woman to manage, is another woman’s kitchen. Yes. We may share a living space. But when it comes to the culinary castle, my mother treats it like her personal kingdom and guards it jealously.
It is wonderfully convenient for me that she is such a good cook. So it really doesn’t hurt me too much to throw up my hands and concede the throne of Kitchendom to her. The trouble comes, when she has to travel for a few days. Unlike cupboards, study tables and bookshelves that can be locked away (What, you’re laughing at locking away a bookshelf? You must have never been a booklover then.), the food supply chain has to keep running. What to do?
In the early years, I shouldered the mantle of Temporary Kitchen Monarch. Naivete never had a better victim. All hell broke loose when I attempted to make a dum aloo, as a welcome-home, the day mother was to return. This being before the advent of Wikipedia and Google, I used a more primitive form of information gathering. I called my best friend’s mother. The recipe she gave me sounded simple enough. I was really quite proud with what turned out a few hours later.
Mother walked into the house. Stopped. Sniffed. Eyes bored into me accusing.
“HAVE YOU BEEN COOKING NON-VEGETARIAN FOOD IN MY KITCHEN???!!”
That incident has stayed a sore point with us since then and will probably go down in family lore. I deduced that she was smelling the garam masala (made from scratch using *I promise* vegetarian ingredients only). But maybe my Goan auntie’s recipe smelt like our Goan neighbor’s fish fry. Mother refused to touch a bite of the dum aloo. I protested, telling her that I had used ingredients from that very kitchen. I think she has never forgiven me for managing to turn out ‘non-vegetarian’ food from her very vegetarian ingredients.
Well, time to go. It’s been over 24 hours since mum left and the leftovers are nearly over. Weekend promises food encounters of the third kind. I better get my armour and shields ready. TO BATTLE, WOMAN!