Lip-smacking affair

Lip-smacking affair

Telly Talk

foodie Adam Richman in ‘Man v Food’As celeb chefs waltz their way through overcomplicated recipes, they look up from their bubbling pots to take potshots at us novices. We, who ask for nothing more out of a meal than that it be edible and leave no more than one dirty dish to wash up! (Cup O’ Noodles IS really the next best thing after sliced bread. Trust me.)

So, in this day and age of ‘peel this, chop that, saute this, simmer that’, folks like us are in real danger of being tagged boring, or worse, as seriously lacking in mojo.

The ungarnished truth is that we just want to make our way through life without having to agonise over the virtues of extra virgin olive oil, and we don’t think that sauces, however secret their recipes might be, need to be discussed with more passion than is reserved for Dada’s wild-card entry to the IPL party.

But after several failed food experiments, I find myself on the couch with a bowl of Cup O’ Noddles (what else?!!) and a Bacardi, ready for food-show surfing.

Ah! Lots of helpful hints here. Call it beginner’s luck, but there’s someone who  sounds like my soulmate. He’s called Glutton for Punishment. As he kneads and minces his way to dumpling heaven in British Columbia’s Chinese take-aways, he offers profound wisdom. Sample this: “If it’s a hot liquid you are dealing with, like stock from chicken bones or pork belly, put it in an airtight container before you shake it up.” Nice, except that it smacks more of ‘common sense’ than of ‘culinary wisdom’.

His co-conspirators largely consist of master dumpling makers, who nod Zen-like in agreement at his revelations, and continue to pleat impossibly dainty dumplings. There’s a stuffing specialist, who manually pounds a fillet. Then, there’s a mince specialist who chops spring onions, ginger, mushrooms and garlic into mere memories. And finally, there’s an Origami Master (I kid you not!), who teaches you to pleat the paper-thin pouches neatly enough to find a proper husband with a proper fortune on the other side of the Great Wall! Forget turning nimble, my fingers have frozen in fright. I don’t think I can face a bamboo steamer for a long, long time without turning into a wobbly, low-on-confidence jelly.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Like several Patiala pegs of the aforementioned Bacardi and a large serving of Rocky and Mayur, who have attained cult status with their show, Highway On My Plate. With their voracious appetite for cheap desi khana, they are guaranteed to pep up the most shrivelled up of spirits. They ride through Kotkapura in Punjab and breakfast on atta chicken, fried fish and pork pickle, finishing with dodha —  made with ghee, milk, dry fruits and sugar. And they make my Sunday breakfast of paya-dosa, sourced from ‘Gowdara Mane’ off Kanakpura Road, seem healthy in comparison. Bless them!

Their brief but comforting presence has fortified me enough to tackle both the bizarre and the bountiful. Of Man v Food

Season 3, I have dizzying memories of bushels of potatoes  and illegal quantities of cheese as  I learnt how to cook a 12-egg omelette, stuffed with mushrooms, covered in cheese and served with Jurassic-size hash browns. Will my family survive to tell you how it tasted? Don’t bet on it!

At this point, I must confess that my fragile mental health cannot survive prolonged encounters with either Andrew Zimmern of Bizzare Foods fame or the Domestic goddess, Ms Lawson. Sheep’s eyeballs and blood sausage, declared ‘delicious’ by Andrew, kill my appetite instead of whetting it. And if, as Nigella decrees, I must find ‘25 ways to hand-tool pasta’ instead of buying it ready-made from my kirana store, then it’s clearly time to move on. To better things like dal-chawal and, of course, Cup O’ Noodles.