Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Of recipes and memories

My mother has a bookshelf in her kitchen that has a number of cookbooks on it. Most of them are bought, but among them is a blue diary**, with yellow pages that are falling apart, holding a number of loose sheets of paper shoved in within its pages.

This diary has my Thamma's handwriting all over it. I'm not sure how my mother, the youngest bahu, ended up with it, but for most of my childhood, I remember that being the go-to book that would be spread open in the kitchen any time my mother was making carrot cake, or baked vegetables, or one of several other recipes.

I don't remember seeing it being used all that often in recent years - partially, I suspect, because I paid less attention, but also I suppose because some of those recipes have probably been used often enough to make referring to the actual recipe unnecessary.

I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a good cook. I like the idea of cooking, and do it from time to time. But it doesn't come instinctively to me, and that frustrates me. When someone rattles off a recipe on the phone to me, it's pointless because I won't remember any of it. And when anyone tells me to add something "andaaze se", it makes me want to tear my hair out. I need to see a recipe to make anything, and I need to be told exactly how much to put in of every single item I'm adding.

I own one cookbook, and I have a number of recipes saved in my email or my browser favorites. But a few weekends ago, I found an unused notebook I had bought impulsively a couple of years ago (hello, cute puppy on cover of diary. come home with me, yes?), and never used more than two pages of. One of those pages was a to-do list, and the other page was a recipe. And just like that, without really thinking it through, I found myself spending the next hour painstakingly writing down the recipes for the ten or fifteen recipes I use on a regular basis, along with a few that I want to try at some point.

This notebook is now sitting in my kitchen, and has been referred to twice or thrice in the past few weeks. I'm hoping it gets used more often, and that it gets added to more often, and that eventually, I won't really need to refer to it that often, but that it will still sit there, waiting to be opened up and looked at.

** Update: The mother has emailed me to point out that I have my diaries all mixed up. Apparently the one with Thamma's cake recipes is a brown leather bound diary, while the blue one is something she herself used to save and scribble recipes in, and was originally given to her by her father-in-law so she could learn to read and write Bengali.

I was a kid, okay. But the point is the same, really.

1 comment:

Farheen said...

Hey! Do share some of the recipes!