The daily grumble


There’s no salt in the sambar.’ ‘Why is the palya so spicy?’ ‘The rasam is so sour it sets my teeth on edge.’ ‘Aren’t there vegetables other than gourds and squashes in the market?’ ‘And can’t we have some variety?’ Such comments are commonplace in a family with a discerning palate and a critical attitude. With food prices escalating by the hour, one must be grateful for three square meals (and more) a day. At least, that's what I believe. But my lofty principles go largely unshared.

Fed up with this daily grumble and on the recommendation of a friend who said I’d be helping a needy person, I engaged a lady to do the cooking. Not to have to listen to my culinary shortcomings everyday was something to rejoice about. The flip side, I soon realised, was that it tied me down, especially as the lady in question rarely arrived at the fixed time. If it suited her, she would arrive early. If inconvenient, she would be late. So either she caught me unawares or kept me waiting. It wasn’t easy for me to reschedule at short notice or no notice. Frailty is a comon failing so I just grinned and bore it.

By the time lady fair showed up, I had to decide the menu and have the vegetables ready. Some days, very little cooking would be needed. But because she was coming,
I had to find enough work for her to do. (Also she would feel victimised when allotted her normal quota! It would have been easier to give her an off day but then it would set a precedent.) And to avoid waste, I had to find ways and means of disposing the cooked stuff.

To give the lady her due, her range and expertise were amazing. My admiration was a bit forced and tinged with resentment for an outsider taking full control of my fiefdom, as it were. I am no gourmet cook and complicated recipes with a metre-long  list of ingredients put me off.

But I am enamoured of my own cooking, even if others aren't. I specialise in simple, easy-to-cook, wholesome food for which I give myself the credit simply because no one else does. It wasn’t before long that I began to chafe at the bit. The ways of Providence are strange. A family member’s inadvertent remark about the lady’s culinary skill (apparently, it was a bad meal day for her) so piqued her that she upped and left. So I have been reinstated and now, I call all the shots!

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