Thursday, 14 May 2009

Nero's Feast

I don’t know how to describe the last couple weeks. The truth is that I can’t, my vocabulary is somewhat limited in this instance and I find that even the images on Google don’t do any justice.

I’ve mentioned that I’ve been quite busy in the evenings helping my neighbour with her son’s wedding. What I didn’t know at the time was that it’s one of those month-long weddings, because we’ve been busy almost every night doing all sortsa shit. But it’s these last two weeks that has been wedding mania on steroids. I’ve even had to skip class once because of it! And it’s not even my freaking wedding!!

We’ve been invited to have supper at my neighbour’s house, along with 60 odd family members living in the area, every single night since last week. So every single night, we set rows of tables with colour co-coordinated serviettes, cutlery and crockery, and then we have dinner with our pseudo family. Tea, cake and dessert is usually served an hour after the meal. My neighbours house is HUGE…it’s like a Hollywood Home. Not even Cher’s house is so beautiful. It has 9 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, 2 lounges, 2 kitchens, 2 TV rooms, an indoor/outdoor pool and a Courtyard. Since they are only 6 in the household, it sounds rather large but they are the type of family that constantly have people swarming in and out of their home. I love their house because even though it’s beautiful and stunning, it’s still live-able. There’s no pretentiousness and it’s such a comfy home, that you feel free to do whatever you like. As a joke, I stipulated that my voluntary services will have to be rewarded by moving to the upstairs bedroom with the marble floors and walls...the room with the view, but they’d be more than happy to comply.

It’s been an educational few weeks thus far and in between making crystal key-rings and peeling a thousand carrots, I’ve learned so much and have come to conclusions on things I didn’t previously understand. For instance, I’ve come to realise that Butter and Cream and Butter-cream is very popular in the Indian community. I’ve been oblivious to it all these years because I use Olive Oil most of the time…sunflower oil occasionally and the butter-cream only makes its appearance on Sundays. But with these people, it’s butter or ghee because the richer and creamier the food, the better…and no denying, it’s deliciously decadent. If I ever re-consider my vocation, I think I’ll give up “farming” in Colombia as an idea, and substitute it with becoming a dairy farmer because geez, they’re making a fortune from the Indian community…maybe even more than those Colombian drug lords *ahem* I mean farmers.

Until recently, I could never understand why Indian women are so reluctant to share their recipes with others. And then I saw the feast rolled out before us, every single night. They put so much of their identities into every dish, that any criticism or praise is taken as a personal attack or admiration on their characters. Their dishes are an extension and reflection of who they are. These women are so intriguing, Nigella has nothing on them. For starters, they embody perfection because they are all immaculately groomed, from their colour coordinated attire, flawless makeup, to every strand of hair in its place. It’s like the Stepford wives club or something. Their food is also immaculately presented, flawless. I reckon they strive for this perfection because it’s like they’re on a stage presenting themselves to the world. And any acknowledgement or commendations they receive validates their existence as housewives. It’s that recognition that drives them.

I’ve never seen any other nation take so much pride in their cooking. Indian women love it and nothing is a challenge. It’s amazing when you sit at that table, and notice how each of them compete, albeit very subtly, seeking the consumer’s approval. You tell her it’s lovely, the best thing you’ve ever eaten and she beams. You’ve given her your stamp of approval…she’s now worthy of her status.
I view these women like you’d stare at the scene of an accident, with a mixture of awe and nausea. I’ll tell you this much, I’ll never be able to do what they do. Such perfection is reserved for Prophets and Angels. I admire their capabilities…and I sometimes think to myself that if I looked like Catherine Zeta Jones and didn’t have to work, I’d also be a bourgeois housewife rolling out all sorts of flawless cakes and curries from my production line.

On another note, I don’t know how we’re going to fit into any of our clothes for the wedding. Everyone, I mean EVERYONE so far has put on some weight thanks to Emperor Nero’s feast every single night. And I never thought I’d ever say this, but I’m tired of food.

I’m tired of the deliciously creamy butter chicken and hot loaves of bread tinged with aniseed.

I’m tired of the delectably spicy mutton curries with the decadent butter infused rice.

I’m tired of the scrumptious cheesecakes decorated and glazed with assorted berries.

I’m tired of the endless stream of beef samoosa’s and chicken pies and the various sauces and chutney’s accompanying them.

I’m tired of the most delicious Pavlova I’ve ever eaten with a crunchy/mushy centre of diced dates, boudoir biscuits and some other enchanting stuff, garnished with chocolate roses, fresh cream and fresh strawberries.

I’m tired of salad dripping in a creamy honey & mustard dressing with chunks of feta cheese on a bed of roasted slivered almonds and sesame seeds.

I’m tired of those little flavoured cupcakes decorated impeccably, melting once it touches your lips.

I’m tired of the chicken Briyani with that hint of saffron floating in the air as the steam rises and the mint & coriander flavoured buttermilk that's drizzled on the rice.

I’m tired of the trifle, made of silky layers of crème and custard on a bed of sponge cake positively dripping in strawberries and all things nice.

I’m tired of the luscious steaks marinated in oriental spices and simmered in dreamy sauces until delectably tender.

I’m tired of the hot fresh Roti’s served as an alternative to every meal.

I’m tired of the chocolate mousse that stares at my eyes, calling my tongue to taste the tiny bubbles of creamy decadent delightful bliss.

I’m tired of the chocolate éclairs with their crusty exteriors engraved in chocolate and their smooth velvety interiors made up of fresh cream and custard mousse.

I’m tired of the Kheer, the hot milk doused with loads of cream, sugar, pistachio’s and almonds and spiced with cardamom, even though my esophagus thinks it died and went to milk heaven.

There’ll be no end to this, not until after the wedding. Until then, I think I’ll have to alter some of my clothes.

I’m hungry now.


  1. :( :( :(

    I miss my momma's cooking!! :(

  2. I thought you were on a no-chocolate diet...or is that over now?

  3. if my mumsy wasnt the most awesome cook, whose food is so delicious that i havent learnt the trade as a result, i would really hate you right now for posting about the feast that awaits you daily. :p

    have fun. you certainly wont be getting that kinda quality here in londres :p (j/k)!

  4. Woman, are you crazy? You got me craving most of the stuff in that pic :( Especially briyani, which I haven't attempted. Lucky I ate lunch before reading this :P

  5. Someone told me on Gareths show on 5fm that when white guys think of Indian women they think of the Kama Sutra,but when Indian guys think of Indian women they think of pots and pans.

    How much time till home time and lekker food?....I am now hungry

  6. Asra, you didn't sample any ....chocolate.... while feasting did you? I'm simply curious whether or not you could sit at the table with chocolate deserts and resist the temptation.

    It looks awesome!

  7. Let me just make one thing clear...has has been no consumption of chocolate :) Everything else is fair game though, which defeats the purpose of trying to be healthy. Too much cake really can kill you.

    Arslan - It should be enough incentive to visit your mom more often :)

    Dreamlife - There hasn't been any chocolate. Just lots of cream and strawberries, and custard and cake :)

    Sofi - In all the time I was in the UK, I never had what I can get here. In fact, the best food I had in the UK would rank 5 out of 10, compared to the stuff I get here :P

    Nafisa - I have a love/hate relationship with food :D

    Mini - I reckon the reason Indians like food so much is because they're all repressed. And the ones that aren't repressed like the Kama Sutra :P

    LL - There were so many other desserts so it was easy to ignore the chocolate :)

  8. do you know how you actually killed my diet by just makin me see all that Azra?

  9. I quote: "I’m tired of the chocolate éclairs with their crusty exteriors engraved in chocolate and their smooth velvety interiors made up of fresh cream and custard mousse."Do you know how much I like éclairs? Putting that sort of language on the Internet should be a crime. The mere words are 400 calories.

  10. AD - can always start again on Monday :P

    LL - lol, you had to see those éclairs...they were perfection personified. The lady who made them, one of the perfect women there, did an excellent job...the cream was whipped to perfection, the custard mousse so divine...and she even detailed designs in chocolate on the crusts. I didn't eat the top part though, just the bottom with the cream and custard. No surprises that they were finished in 10 minutes :)

    Last nights feast included creamy chicken Alfredo pasta and tandoori chicken and mince curry and some rice dish thingy...

  11. Azra have mercy, in some places its way too early to be visually force fed such rich dishes !!!

  12. What happened to the chocolate diet?

    Those pics are so suck! ;) I want my mummy's food now! She lives 2.5 hours away :( Nevermind, I'll just whip up some butter chicken or go to my mum-in-laws for supper instead :) I can make it, but really there's nothing like mother's food.

    Lol, I have to admit, I never ever imagined that I would be one of those aunties, but I have managed to taste a sample of that life.
    Ever since I got married, I experienced such delight in experimenting with food and seeing the "i'm in heaven eating this" look on my husband's face that I actually finally understood what most Indian mothers are striving for.

    Perhaps we do turn into our mothers...

  13. DD - lol...

    Fatima - I havent been eating any of the chocolate...I've just been eating everything else :P

    & yeah I can understand how those women just want recognition and appreciation for what they do...all those hours perfecting the art. I wish I could to that at my leisure sometimes *sigh*

  14. Did someone say chocolate eclairs???????????

  15. that butter chicken looks amazing!

  16. Antonio - Chocolate Eclairs...and loads of em in a variety :P

    MJ - It tastes better :)