March 31, 2008

Remove Label Before Heating

What's with my fascination for packaged food?

Considering that most people in their right mind would prefer fresh food to packaged, I count myself in this category, I still try out everything that is packaged. Is it that I'm a food fanatic that I can actually talk about scientific progress laced with examples drawn from packaged food or is it because food is the most basic thing?

Or it could just be that I'm hungry...

I remember the first time that Cup O Noodles hit Indian shores everyone went ga-ga over the damn thing. Cup O Noodles for me beat Maggi any day for it was different and one didn't have to waste utensils! Its a different story that the noodles tasted insipid but that gave mothers and grandmothers yet another reason to praise the goodness of a wholesome Indian meal. I think it was the advertisement for Cup-O-Noodles that did it for me. I don't remember much of it but it featured a 20 some thing single working woman alone on a road trip. She had a steaming cup of noodles and was admiring the sunset across the highway. More than the noodles I couldn't wait to meet someone like her!

Then came the boom of the 1990's when anything that was remotely edible was packaged. Exotic preparations such as Mugh Musallam, Daal Bukhara and what have you were now available. These might not have tasted as the real thing should but then when your father is posted in Agartala, Tripura, you don't crib much. And in any case army kids loved anything that is packaged!

The late 1990's saw places like Modern Bazaar in Delhi get microwave popcorn and suddenly watching a film on video wasn't the same. I remember in 1995 my friends would come halfway across the city to enjoy some. US returned people got Kraft Meals to make life a little more interesting.

Look around and you'd find authentic food from across the world in a supermarket near you. The greatest miracle being a pint of Guinness in a can with a nitrogen ball; thankfully you don't have to swallow the ball. I would rest my case with a gift that I got yesterday. A friend presented a bottle of spiced oil from Kerala. The oil is a concoction of spices and comes with a dropper. A single drop while brewing tea and you have authentic Spiced Indian Chai!

I suppose I ought to eat or drink something or other;
but the great question is 'What?'
-Lewis Carroll (Alice on Wonderland)

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