A few years ago I was the sole keeper of my two children. I kept them clothed, fed, alive. I also kept my husband fed for the most part. Since Sean is disinterested in food and only partakes nutrition to live and I live to eat, I took it upon myself to cook for the family. Also I decided to stay home to take care of our children. So cooking dinner fell upon me. The kids did not have a choice, they ate what I cooked. Now that they are older, they do not depend upon me any more. The daughter is a really good cook herself so she often makes her own food and sometimes ours as well. Ryan will eat my food only if he is tired from practice or the food is to his liking. He also makes his own food often. Sean eats what I make still but only if it is vegetarian affair without any vegetable in it. Yes, he is a strange vegetarian who is very limited in the types of vegetables that he eats.
I have finally learned to cook for myself. I have been freed of the responsibility of feeding anyone. So I cook the food of my choice without guilt. Sean does not love Bengali cuisine (he does not know what he is missing). Since I love him, I put his preferences over mine (there can be whole debate about this but my love language is feeding my loved ones) and learned to cook North Indian food – dal makhni, paneer bhurji etc, etc. When I cooked alu posto, Sean politely put it aside. He found kanch kolar kofta and dhoka r dalna too dry. So I gave up on those and cooked the dishes of his choice with great love. And I glowed when I saw my picky husband eating the food I cooked with relish. My children complained that I always catered to their father’s wishes when it comes to food.
Lately though, I have decided to focus on making what I love to eat. I scour the internet for recipes for macher matha diye dal, lau chingri, salmon er kalia…..
Today, on my day off, I cooked a shrimp dish just the way I like it. I put shrimp, thinly sliced onion, potatoes cut like French fries, turmeric, red chili powder, poppy seed paste, mango mustard (aam kashundi), salt and mustard oil in a pot. Added half cup of water and let the whole concoction cook in medium to low heat till potatoes were well cooked.
There were stray vegetables loitering around in the fridge – a small head of broccoli, carrots, red pepper. All those went into a skillet with some potatoes, sliced onions, turmeric, chilli powder and mustard oil. Chemistry and heat did their thing. The result was delicious.
Nobody ate any of it. But as I sat down to eat, the smell of mustard oil and the taste of poppy seeds took me back home – to my sunny City of Joy, to my summer afternoons, to my ma and baba.