|My friend Ania and Kamil's daughter Tyńcia enjoying my cooking: Puri with aloo matar!!|
One of my earliest memory from my childhood was to eat properly... more importantly to finish the meal.. coming as I do from a poor family... Wasting food was out of the question but a child can sometime take more than he can mange to finish!!
My sister was a poor eater but me and my elder brother ate ravenously... Our mother would always encourage us: "Let's see whose plate doesn't need washing today" We would lick our plate off and compare each others skill!!
I have maintained that habit and can't waste even a single grain of rice on my plate... This of course affects my appetite when I see people waste food on their table...
When sometimes I visit church on a Sunday Mass, I have noticed how beautifully, elaborately the padre would gather every little crumb and drops of wine... Polishing off the glass and plate off wine and bread... Reminding me of we two brothers at our meager meals... many moons ago.
Food/grain or Anna is revered in our Hindu Culture... A wife or a mother's kitchen should always be full of food stock... Annapurna etc. and the kitchen Annapurnaar bhandar... Even when rice finishes in stock, Bengalis would never said so but would prefer to say 'rice has increased..' meaning otherwise!!
Recently I befriended a large group of migrants in Europe.. from Nepal, a small Himalayan Hindu Kingdom. A very poor impoverished country... many of the work-force in India also comes from Nepal. They invited me to their house for a Nepali 'dal-bhat' (lentil and rice)... I was too glad to oblige. I know something about the taste of their dal-bhat.. Having travelled and trekked there...
|अन्नपूर्णा (Annapurna or Annapoorna )|
As is the custom with simple people they treated me with a sumptuous meal of dal-bhat and vegetables. I dipped my fingers into the hot luxurious rice and dal.. polishing off my plate, enjoying 'home food' after a long-long time... But this was short lived as I watched in horror; as my Nepali hosts got off one by one from their seats, with their plates still full and dumped all its content in the waste bin in the corner of the kitchen!!
I was flabbergasted!! Later I took aside one of them, whom I had become close and asked why did all of you throw so much food?! His stuttered and replied: "Oh... we, we ..actually if we finish our food it may show we come from a hungry poor family/country!!"
*(Annapurna is a Sanskrit name which literally means "full of food" (feminine form), but is normally translated as Goddess of the Harvests. In Hinduism, Annapurna is "... the universal and timeless kitchen-goddess ... the mother who feeds. Without her there is starvation, a universal fear: This makes Annapurna a universal goddess ... Her most popular shrine is located in Kashi, on the banks of the river Ganga." Her association with the giving of food (wealth) led her in time to be transformed into Lakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth. etc. Courtesy wikipedia.)
Annapurna is also the name of the Himalayan peak at 8,091 m (26,545 ft)... in Nepal!!