I’m seven years old. We’re all sitting on the terrace on a big blanket. It is my mom’s idea, of course, she always has these ideas that make mundane things exciting. We’re eating breakfast on the terrace. A shop across our house sells puri and guguni. The guguni is very spicy for me and tears flow down my face as I shove it into my mouth. The puri is a little hard too. Doesn’t stop me from eating seven. I’m rewarded for my spice tolerance at the end with dark brown, almost black gulab jamuns soaked in syrup.
I’m 10. Jam doughnuts were a special treat. As my mom picked my sister and me from school she’d be armed with a small box of five jam doughnuts fresh off Sainsbury racks. I’d stuff them into my mouth and the powdered sugar would stick to my face. A sugar-Santa moustache if you will.
Friday evenings were for Aloo Bondas. Crispy and flavourful, paired with a thick green chilli. My dad would buy a packet of these delectable treats on his way home, from a shop right beside the tube station. By the time he reached home, the brown paper would be stained with oil but the bondas would still be warm. English summers and aloo bondas. They were a good pair.
Square sized brownies in the cafeteria. Gooey in the centre with a crispy layer on top. I remember walking out of class in frustration and buying brownies for myself. For the entire year that I attended that school, I only bought the brownies. Never anything else, just brownies.
New place, new school. It was my first day. A girl asked me if she could try my lunch. Before I understood her question, she took a huge bite of my sandwich. I frowned because frankly, I was a little shocked. I cursed her in my head. Life moved in a circle because, by the time I left school, she nursed a grudge against me for eating her lunch every day.
When the lunch bell rang, it meant a race to the canteen. Didn’t matter if I had no money in my pockets. Our school was small and I knew almost everyone. There was always someone’s food to share. I ate spicy kachoris and bhel puri downed with a cold chocolate milkshake. There must have been at least three different flavours of milkshake available but I picked chocolate every single time. There was aloo paratha on Wednesdays and dosas every day. There was gobi Manchurian I had only heard of but never been able to eat.
Every summer was accompanied by cornetto ice creams, trips back home with coconut prawn curry and rainy evenings with pakodas.
I love how food intertwines with significant moments in our lives. Food is connected to the memories we make. It isn’t just about sustenance, rather about the bonds we forge with the people around us when we eat together.