Monday, September 02, 2013

Food is where the heart is

A week or so before I was to leave for Iowa, a lot of my mother's veteran families-in-the-US friends asked me if I was going to take pickles, podis and things. I laughed and said I'd be fine. In my head, I thought, I can adapt to the food; I don't need to have sambar and rasam and find the nearest temple for food from home.

I'm still not going to be looking for a temple any time soon, but one week in and it's become clear that all of us are suffering from some sort of food homesickness. We have a microwave, a mini fridge and a coffee maker in our room. For those who need tea, the coffee maker is useless and the microwave a travesty.

We bought an electric kettle and we have that in our common room for anyone to heat water for their tea.

But what to do about rice, about actual hot, cooked food? (Leave rotis out of the equation entirely. This is not going to happen.)

Before coming here, I checked out how to make rice in the microwave. I have never owned or used a microwave so it was always going to be a challenge. But for the last two days, I've been thinking of spices, of oil, of soaking the rice, cooking times.

Yesterday was a beautiful day. It was warm but with a cooling breeze and the promise of a sharper bite in the days to come. There were pretty, puffy clouds in the sky and a green river to sit by. I lay down on a bench and read, looked at the clouds and had a brief nap.

There was so much contentment in that: in not having to worry about who will look at me while I'm pretending the entire outdoors is my own private domain. There was so much freedom in the ability take that nap under the patchwork clouds and sun.

Later that afternoon, after the first Prarie Lights readings featuring IWP writers, I felt restless. The day had to have a different end than an indifferently consumed meal at a pub. We got talking about cooking and a few of us decided to pick up some supplies and head back to my room, where I had a menu shaping in my head: pulau, cucumber raita and salad.

It wasn't that hard. Not having a cutting board slowed things up a bit, but we did it. There was no nimbu for the salad but we squeezed tomatoes. Erez made a mean dessert with berries, mascarpone and dark chocolate.

Here is the evidence.

Pulau, Raita, Salad
All the sinfulness!
And here's the river and the sky.


pi-pu-xi-xu said...

Oh yay! I have been very careful about what I eat post-typhoid, and am quite the microwave and induction cooker expert right now. That pulao looks delicious! :)

Lekhni said...

You are brave to even consider microwave-cooking rice. The much easier way is to buy an electric rice cooker that you can plug in your room itself. You can find one at the nearest Target or Wal-mart, at all price ranges starting from a Rival for about $15 to a Zojirushi for $300+. (Disclaimer - I have Rival, Aroma and Zojirushi cookers at home). They all work well, and some even have delay start options.