Long live the plain bun

Soon the college years were over and our food preferences changed.

‘Mr Iyengar must be a very rich man, he owns so many bakeries,’ said a visitor to Bangalore. 

When I told her that it’s a generic name and that the items you get here like dil pasand, dil khush, honey cake, and om biscuit you don’t get in the upmarket patisseries, she was quite surprised. But among all that line the shelves, my all-time favorite is the plain bun.  The story goes back to the time I was in college. 

Bun-butter-jam was an evening ritual for us, and at 50 paise it was affordable for all the hostelites.  It became an integral part of all our celebrations – be it a birthday treat or a midnight party in the hostel corridors.  Even when we travelled we carried buns as it was a no-fuss kind of food. 

Soon the college years were over and our food preferences changed.  We met a few years later and while debating about whether to have Chinese or Peshawari cuisine, one said – ‘let’s have buns first and then decide!’ The Iyengar bakery owner recognised us and generously slathered butter on the buns.  We spoke about the good old days. We laughed when we recollected how we played “holi” in the streets of Bangalore and were not allowed into any restaurant, and had finally come to the old-faithful bakery to eat buns. ‘Remember when the warden reprimanded us for sending the chowkidar to get us buns,’ said another, and soon we were recounting all the bun episodes!

Within a few years, a health wave spread rapidly and white (white bread, refined sugar) was a no-no and buns fell to the bottom of my grocery list.  Every health magazine extolled the virtues of wholewheat bread/buns, sprouts and salads.  Never mind if the word salad contained the word sad – and that’s exactly how I felt when I stopped eating plain buns.  Iyengar bakeries came up with an ingenious idea of stuffing potatoes in the bun and voila the ‘playa bun’ was born!  This mitigated the guilt of eating a bun, as the veggie part was healthy!

I don’t know why this happens, but after reaching a certain age and stage in life one tries to be more health conscious; so I began following good practices as suggested in the papers and magazines.  Then I realized that they are not very sure themselves – or else why would they condemn drinking tea/coffee one day and the very next day they would say that it is good for the heart!  So I came to the conclusion that everything is good, but in moderation!  That’s how I rationalized that a bun with my morning tea would do me no harm. 

Of course lectures were given about how the bun has no nutritive value, just adds calories etc.  but what took the cake (in this case the bun!) was when I was told that it is ‘white poison!’ But Poison is one of the best-selling perfume brands in the world!  All objections were overruled when we met a 93 year old man who enjoys eating buns every day.  After seeing him my husband said – ‘The buns must be having a secret ingredient for longevity!’

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