Dinner table drama is at the centre of our columnist’s new piece!
Sitting down collectively for a meal is an important act of love and bonding. My father often says, “A family who eats together, stays together” when synchronised schedules and lack of binge-worthy TV shows allow us to all be at the dining table.
But what happens when the food on the table is not to everyone’s preference?
Enter the debacle of “home food”.
A well-kept Indian house will usually have an array of dishes served; Thai food for those who identify more as “Amanchai” than “Aman” and sabzis and daal for the traditional lot who haven’t been swayed by krapow and green curry.
“Home food”, as your mom probably calls it, is deﬁned by eating a meal that has been carefully prepared in your kitchen with ingredients sourced by the house.
There is a belief that home food is superior to outside delivery services or prepackaged meals and denying it shows a disregard for the eﬀ orts that have been made to arrange it.
There are some instances when one may reject home food. For example, when it’s Tuesday and the house is only cooking vegetarian there’s always that one dissident family member who must order a meat lovers pizza.
“Eat the home food,” will be the irate yell resounding by those invested in the menu planning.
Or if a family member doesn’t inform the house earlier that they will be eating at a restaurant and home food is already made and now you have an angry cook.
The insistence of consuming home food seems to be a societal barometer of how eﬀ ectively families run. Eating “yesterday’s food” – a shunned cousin of “home food” – is also looked down upon, never mind the advent of hygiene and safety measures such as fridges and freezers. To those who only subscribe to the idea of fresh-cooked home meals, freezers are merely for ice cubes and ice cream and not a place to store batch cooked food. The convenience of such a method is not acknowledged by the privileged and cosmopolitan.
Throw in the arrival of babies and the pressure for home food has never been greater. Organic produce must be steamed and puréed right in your kitchen. That precious little being could never eat from a store-bought jar no matter how tired or sleep deprived you are.
Keeping up such a standard is not easy, but then again running a home is hard work in itself. The kitchen sustains the house, whether meals are cooked by family members themselves or they are lucky enough to have staﬀ to do the preparations. Sure, once in a while nothing beats waiting hours for Isao delivery, but as we get older we realise home food is where the heart is.*
*Unless all your hired cooks keep quitting and suddenly you regret not learning how to make roti and paneer because you were going out with your friends all the time.
This Christmas, all this writer humbly requests for is a nice cook to bring home food back into my house! Please feel free to send all your referrals my way and I will repay you with all the home food you could desire! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
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.