A woman introduced to me by a friend visited me the other day. We had a nice chat and I offered her something to eat. She came into the kitchen as I got her meal ready and hovered over me, eyes wide with anxiety, asking me questions about ingredients, process, et cetera, until I got a little snippy and asked her to sit at the dining table. My irritation was due to the fact that she does this every single time she visits; you see, because she is far from home (California) and misses home-cooked meals, I always offer her something I hope she will enjoy.
Please note that her attitude is not normal: her eyes go wide with strain when the subject of food comes up, and she tells me she cannot eat most things (being veg or vegan is wonderful, but her behavior goes way beyond these humane rules for good living). My own attitude, I said, is to accept what is given to me as long as 1) food is offered from the heart 2) is hygienically prepared and tasty 3) and that it does not violate my principles of general eating. I told her that my favorite breakfast when I leave the house early to walk up the mountain is two dosais with mouth-watering chutney and sambhar, relished at a roadside stall. I don’t watch the cook carefully to monitor everything she does—no, for me, that would be disrespectful to this lovely local woman who wakes up before dawn to do what she does in order to feed her own family. On the contrary, I am genuinely grateful that she is so willing to please me, always giving me a little more of the red chutney, another ladle of hot sambhar, and a big smile. When I tip her extra, her smile grows and her eyes are full of light. Continue reading