The first thing I ever learned to ‘cook’ was a cake. I don’t know how I meandered into cooking amidst my busy schedule of climbing trees, dollhouses and tea parties in those tiny ceramic tea sets. My mother firmly believed that a gals place is outside the kitchen and did her best to shoo me out even if I ventured in for a drink of water. But I guess one cannot resist ones calling and mine was to make cakes. Now, my Mom is not those expert bakers who whip up delicious, flaky and multilayered cakes with one hand and batches of cookies with the other. She made simple cakes. Her idea of baking a cake was, Cake batter plus Vanilla Essence = Vanilla Cake and Cake batter plus Strawberry Essence = Strawberry Cake and Cake batter with dog hair = “ugh how did the dog fall into the cake batter!?”
And this was because we kids hated cakes. We didn’t like any form of cake, whether it was from the small bakery down the street or the fancy cake outlets like Melting Moments or Sweet Chariot. We were just not into cakes. Our birthday cakes was strictly-number-of-invitees-size-cakes and this was to avoid hiring a tempo to distribute the left overs in the neighborhood. Our birthday snaps shows parents with severely strained smiles, trying to shove the first slice down our tightly closed mouths.
We were salty potato wafer (chips) addicts. We could have potato chips as a pre breakfast snack, breakfast, after breakfast snack, pre lunch snack, lunch, after lunch snack, tea time, pre dinner snack, dinner, after dinner snack, homework snack, grounding snack etc. (We would even convert an occasion for eating it, like for an instance...a funeral snack!!)
In kindergarten while other kids bought fancy pastries we took a big bag of potato wafers. Our parents knew that the line between survival and starvation for their kids was wafer thin. At the rate at which we ate potato wafers, my Dad was sure he could save up enough money that would normally be spent on food and retire by the time he was thirty. (And then Lays entered India and he is still working)
One day the kindergarten teacher took a piece of cake from another child’s tiffin and put it into mine. She felt sorry for the poor kid whose parents could not afford to buy her anything but potato wafers. This was desecration of the worst kind and I screamed till I was blue in the face. A harried teacher explained to my Dad between tears that she was feeling bad to see me eat potato chips day in and day out like a poor tramp. My Dad nodded sympathetically and said he understood perfectly and that he and his wife were also very sad that their kids ate like tramps but there was nothing he could do till there was a potato famine or all chip makers contracted some horrible disease and died. (he lived a lot on hope those days).
When we left for family outings, we kids made sure that the we had enough potato chips for the journey, other things like parents, were secondary or not necessary at all. God forbid if in the middle of nowhere we were to run out of chips!!! The very thought sent our pediatric blood pressures shooting up. And at the rate at which we worried about the depletion of our Potato Chips stocks, we were surefire candidates for pediatric heart problems. And that is how the legend of too much salt leads to BP and heart disease originated. There is no truth to the story. Look!!! I am still alive and I have been on a salt overdose since I could pick up the crumbs from the floor (my brother was a very messy eater you see).
One week many years ago I got so much crumbs from the floor that I didn’t eat regular food for one whole week. My Dad thought I was a wonder baby and was planning to call up the Guinness Book of World Records when my Aunt got us a dog…a #$%@^@& dog that loved potato chips crumbs and zapped it up at the speed of a vacuum cleaner on a caffeine overdose, leaving poor me way down in the food chain among the creepy crawlies in the house. (Those were days of hunger, starvation and deprivation that still haunts me *sniff*)
Despite a staple diet of chips, chips and more chips we remained alive and did quite ok.
Mr. M: What do you give your children…they seem so energetic?
Dad (thinking furiously): err..hmmm they eat lots of carbohydrates (remembers that potato is carbohydrate) and err….minerals (remembers that salt is a mineral) and lots of Vitamin E (remembering that Oil has Vitamin E).
Anyway, all good things have to come an end. And so did our old eating habits and most of our parents troubles.
Today...we are a changed lot. We eat our chips with our mouths closed. We also eat most of it instead of throwing it at each other.
(While most gals munch on chocolates to get over their blues, I prefer a slice of bread spread with potato chips, smothered in mayonnaise with another slice of bread on top to chase away the darkest of my blues. The bread and the mayo is strictly optional)