A lobster that went flying…

A lobster that took a fancy to flying,

A pudding that wasn’t sweet,

Blue spots but the cheese is not off,

Minced but not meat…

The lobster before it attempted to fly…

I grew up in a middle-class, single income family in India. While the food that I grew up eating was delicious, and utilised every seasonal produce, it was largely Gujarati cuisine. And most of it was homemade. From savoury snacks for snacking, pickles and chutneys, flatbreads, vegetable curries, dals and lentils, rice dishes and salads, sweets and sweet treats, as well as the assortment of special fasting food – everything was mostly from recipes that were utilised for generations in the family and were typical of the food that is had in a Gujarati household.

My father was a Gandhian and he ate out only occasionally if not rarely.

We did benefit from the exposure to different regional cuisines of India thanks to our neighbours in the government provided accommodation that we stayed at till I was sixteen, but my introduction to world cuisine only started when I started working and then, when I went to UK and Wales on a Rotary Group Study Exchange Programme.

I grew up in a state in India where (alcohol) prohibition is in place, and I had never really tasted wine. And so when one of my host families opened up a special bottle of red wine for me, and I had a sip, I exclaimed much to their surprise and laughter that it tasted like a cough syrup, particularly Benadryl to me! They found this so hilarious and special that they requested that I write it down in their guest book and I dutifully did.

I also remember encountering blue cheese for the first time on that trip.

Excuse me, I said to the lady who was hosting the lunch at her beautiful country house. I think the cheese has gone bad, it’s blue and smells a lot. That’s why I did not bring it to the table.

I was helping her lay the table after we had finished lunch. We were to have coffee, biscuits and cheese.

Oh no, she had kindly explained to me. It’s not bad, not gone off. It’s a special kind of cheese and this blue molding you see comes from a culture of the mold Penicillium.

Now, a decade and more later, I am wiser, and more exposed to different kinds of cuisines. And yet, there are times when I feel absolutely at a loss, and intimidated by what is in front of me and by who is around me.

Sometimes when we travel, the husband and I are often the only people in a restaurant who are Asian or brown. A lot of people at the other tables know each other, especially if it is a small town or village and I feel as if we stand out by our brownness and our relative lack of knowledge of the food on the menu.

Sometimes, it leads to funny situations. I first encountered a lobster on my table when we had gone to Cornwall for our anniversary a couple of years ago.

I had been meaning to try a lobster for quite some time and my husband suggested that this was a good time to try it since we were near the sea and we would most likely than not get fresh produce.

And so I ordered it. And regretted my choice immediately when the lobster arrived. It looked large, and intimidating and came with a set of tools, and I also thought or hallucinated that its antennae moved.

I sat there, absolutely miserable not knowing what to do with it.

The husband then very kindly asked the waiter if there was something the kitchen could help with, since I was terrified and it was my first time eating a lobster.

They took the lobster back into the kitchen, eased out the meat, and told me not to be afraid of using my hands and getting them messy and that they would provide me with a finger bowl when I was done.

I still felt that all eyes were on me; and I vowed never to order a lobster again, especially at a posh place.

This past vacation to Kinvara, the husband fell into a similar predicament. He ordered a lobster.

It arrived, large and red in its glory. And while the husband had a go with the tools, one little piece went flying and landed down on the floor – at the table next to us.

We were mortified.

I then thought of all the times when we had ordered something in the past, new and unfamiliar and the lessons we had learnt. Quickly, all those encounters flashed in my mind.

There was this time when the husband had encountered black pudding at a hotel breakfast in Glouscester and he had saved it for the last because he always saves the sweet dish to savour at the end of the meal.

It wasn’t sweet. It wasn’t meant to be. Black pudding is made from pork blood and I can safely say that it is an acquired taste.

Or the several years we didn’t buy mince pies for Christmas thinking these were cold pies made of minced meat, not something that we would like.

Christmas mince pies are sweet and absolutely delicious and not made of meat. They are rather filled with a mixture of dried fruits and spices called ‘mincemeat!’ Oh, the wasted years – the years we spent without digging our teeth into these delicious beings!

Or that time in Malta where we had ordered half of a rabbit each, and it arrived exactly half (it was a big rabbit), with both of us getting one ear, half of a tongue, half of its tail and everything half of the rabbit each…

These are just some of our adventures as we learn more about different kinds of food, maybe you have some to share as well?

Has your lobster even flown or your fish danced?

3 thoughts on “A lobster that went flying…

  1. For a person i am, i can safely say i felt like being on a misadventure 🙂 and ate my meat with your words today.

    It was a beautiful read Prerna, your tryst comes out with layers of experiences beautifully dipped in innocence and simplicity,

    I imagine for most Indians, early on western or any new culture has a vulnerable start. Probably also for the lack of the dept of our own. But we try not to hurt anyone, not even the lobster on the plate 🙂

    My wishes.
    Nara x

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love the adventures of the lobster and your take on the black pudding ! I could imagine your terrified face when that lobster moved 😂 if we ever meet over Christmas I would know now to pass my Christmas pudding to you. xx

    Liked by 1 person

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