Sumati Huber elaborates on this uniquely Indian love language.
Never mind if you just ate a huge meal or are trying to lose weight, there’s no escaping food when an Indian is near. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, dinner or multiple snacks in between, the joy of feeding others is apparent through these 10 ways that show sharing food is the Indian love language.
1. You casually mention that these oranges you ate at your mum’s house are tasty. The next day she sends her driver to you first thing in the morning with seven kilos worth of oranges that you couldn’t possibly fit in your fridge or finish in time. Now and forever, any time those oranges are in season, she will buy them for you and never take “no” for an answer even when you say you don’t like them any more. But hey, that’s how she shows she cares.
2. “You look hungry” or “Have you eaten yet?” are normal expressions used to greet someone.
3. You cannot leave someone’s home without the host insisting you pack a Tupperware of the leftover food served to take back to share with your family. The host happily reveals the recipe or source of the meals even if you didn’t ask (but of course you asked because food is life).
4. Roti is always made fresh for you on the spot, one piece at a time as per your hunger, so you can eat it “hot, hot”because God forbid you must consume something prepared in advance. If there are already rotis on the table you will be forced to wait for the newest one that is currently puffing up on the flame (especially if you are the favourite child).
5. If someone sends you a fruit basket, sweets or any other kind of food for a special occasion, you reciprocate tenfold and make sure you return something back that’s even more opulent.
6. No dining table surface area is ever left empty when it comes to hosting guests. Dishes are made in-house and catered from outside to ensure every person leaves feeling satisfied with any food they could ever crave. There must be a selection of Thai, Indian and Western fare, both veg and non-veg. Even if you are expecting only a few guests, you portion as if you are feeding a famished Indian army.
7. People try to empathise when you say you want to lose weight but eventually will attempt to dissuade you with things like, “You won’t be full if you don’t eat rice”, “You are looking too skinny”, “There’s nothing wrong with ghee, you must add it to your food”. Trying to stick to new diet routines like becoming vegan, keto or carb-free is impossible and parents will blame your friends or social media for putting nonsense food ideas in your head.
8. Your mum has probably asked, “What would you like for dinner?” more times than she has inquired about your job, friends or mental health.
9. Nothing irritates an Indian parent more than learning you snack on things like cereal instead of eating the hot, homemade sabzi and chawal prepared.
10. No matter what your view is on the Indian obsession with food, when you get older you realise you now also regularly think about meals, miss the daal from your mum’s house, and constantly ask your kids, “Are you hungry? Would you like to eat something?”
An unreformed party girl and mother of two, writer, editor and observer Sumati Huber tries to make sense of our unique Thai-Indian society and the aunties that she will one day become.