A culinary journey

It may sound a little odd to the modern generation, yet, utensils and kitchen accessories were among a new bride's friends when house keeping was a full time job and instant foods and take-aways were unheard of. As a novice in the kitchen, she grew up with them, and they, in turn, were mute witnesses to her escapades, burnt fingers and faux passes in the kitchen.

In times when a bride was valued much for her home-making skills, kitchen paraphernalia to equip her was part of her trousseau. Kitchenware formed a part of her wedding gifts too - a humble attempt by well wishers to pitch in and help set up her kitchen.

Likewise, my kitchen journey started amidst kitchenware, mainly stainless steel as was the practice with each utensil being assigned an identity, like 'the sambar pot,' 'the tea-brewing pot' and the ornamental ones unsuitable for cooking, turning into 'the chutney or salad bowls.' Daily, they reminded me of the aunt, neighbour, friend or cousin who gifted them as their names were etched on them.

As my family grew in size, its needs diversified, and technology offered more choices, my collection acquired new items even as many old ones got redundant, replaced or reallocated with different tasks. Lunch boxes and tiffin carriers found their way on the kitchen shelf as children started school. Trays, and serving bowls filled the shelves when guests poured in.

My erstwhile chutney holders are just big enough containers for our leftovers, while my curry bowls are the mid morning tea brewing pots for my present three-generation family. The iron tavas and kadais have bowed out to their modern cousins, non-stick tavas and the copper bottoms. My kitchenware have been milestones in my long and never ending journey in the kitchen, their story marking the evolution of my family from its roots to the present one.

If I was awe-struck by the huge golden bowls, serving dishes, and cooking items of the British Royalty displayed in a London museum, my mother-in-law's spatula, worn out to the size of a dessert spoon due to turning of thousands of dosas for over half a century for her big brood of over a dozen (no exaggeration), and the big porcelain jar my mother used to stuff salted mangoes in, that now adorns my sister's drawing room, are no less exciting - though not for their cost but certainly for their charm and their accomplished owners.

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