It was spring in Chicago, election day, back when I was sentenced to—I mean a student at— the University of Chicago. Outside our apartment, of course, another freak March blizzard had dumped yet more feet of snow. Crews plowing the streets covered what remained visible of the parked cars. Here and there, old chairs defended parking spots which had been painstakingly shoveled clear and now belonged to their excavators by right of shovel.
At the polls, people who had (technically) been dead for decades continued to vote early and often. The temperature continued to drop. When it was nearing 0(F), the accepted greeting was, “Cold ‘nuff for ya?” At the corner market, the Old Man ringing up my milk and eggs asked, “What happens when it gets to 500-below zero in Chicago?”
I was pretty sure I didn’t want to know.
“Hell freezes over, Cubs take the Series, and the Bears win the Superbowl.”
But inside our apartment, my roommate Jaya was serving us a Kerala meal. She was sad that we didn’t have proper banana leaves, but she insisted we eat the rice and other dishes with our fingers. The tastes exploded on our tongues, and we couldn’t stop eating. All of us were crying from unexpected spices, talking and laughing and shoveling handfuls into our mouths. The snow might have piled around the building, temperatures continuing to plunge downward, but inside it was summer.
They say that taste and smell are the keepers of memories. For me, a proper South Indian meal smells and tastes like laughter and friendship and youth. So I loved this post by my friend Savithri on the joys of eating that most typical of South Indian dishes, Rasam Shadam.
(Oh, and if you get a chance, don’t miss her post BIO-SKETCH OF A TAM –BRAHM!)
The true blue Tam -Brahm cannot do without his/her daily fix of rasam shadam….the hotter it is, the spicier it is….yum…the better it is.But the how of the entire exercise….thereby hangs another tale..and if you are going to eat it off a banana leaf?
Rasam shadam is the second course of any meal and the connoisseur loves it flowing like the Brahmaputra in spate.One cannot really blame him /her for there are few things that can match a mix of hot rice, hotter rasam served by the shovelful and a generous dollop of ghee. The aroma that arises is, is, is (can you describe it.Ichallenge you.)
Now comes the moot question. How do you transfer this delectable handful to your mouth?For, the minute you lift your hand, the rasam which has a mind of its own,is busy looking for the path of least resstance and running off your plate.If you…
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this looks wonderful. p.s. one of my daughters is a uc alum. )
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Robin Rivera said:
Sometimes you share a meal with family and friends and you know you will never forget that meal. Years later you can sit down and recall everything thing about the table conversation and way the room just rung with laughter. It really can make you feel like summer even on the coldest day.
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I love your memory of that winter meal. A shower and change of clothes would definitely be part of my experience with this meal. Well worth it from the all indications!