Memories of food stay with us. The feelings that they evoke are inexplicably tied to our senses and emotions. As we get older, we are often reminded of them. Sometimes unexpectedly, other times we actively work at recreating the memory through the meticulous preparation of a meal.
When you’re looking for a recipe, where do you go? Google, Pinterest, physical cookbooks are a few places to find what you’re looking for. What do you do if that’s not enough?
My grandfather, Nana, loved to cook. He was one of those people who appreciated eating good food and felt right at home in the kitchen. Its surprising especially considering the rigid gender roles found in many cultures.
Nana made the best food. My favorite/comfort was his khichri. In a nutshell, it is rice and dal (lentils) with spices. Though the kitchen was the center of our home, he managed to (magically) conjure the dish out of thin air.
Good luck wrangling the recipe from him. He would always say you don’t need to know it, just eat and enjoy it. He never gave anything away and kept us guessing. I’ve tried to recreate his version of the dish without success. What did he put in it that made it so delicious. Could it be love?
Love as an ingredient is the only possibility that can make sense, at least to me. You can’t see it but it is often there beneath the surface. I had a conversation with one of my students recently about this. We both agreed that you feel the love that is poured into food. This is why, even though multiple people have the same recipe, the end product can taste different.
Nana had long since passed away. His loss is still felt. He never did give us his recipes. But I suppose maybe that’s what he wanted. For us to remember him always through his food, keeping him close to our hearts forever.