Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Tour de France- Part VI

One evening out at a restaurant overlooking the Seine, at the magical hour when the lights of Paris turn on to the delight of the tourists crowding the bateaux mouches trawling the river, Suji sat at on the very edge of her seat stuffing herself with mouthfuls of the mushroom pie that Amma had cut up for her, novice that she was to table manners, forks and knives. Adult conversation flowed and ebbed around her, softly susurrant, between her parents and the friends who had invited them to dine out. She paid no heed, too busy savoring the spicy herbal flavors scenting the pie, the melting crunch of buttery pastry shell. "Yum, I love this mushroom pie!"

Back home, she slipped into her nightwear and curled up in her bed, falling into a rather fitful sleep. At midnight, she awoke in a cold sweat, with a burning ache in her food-pipe. Nausea bubbled up as she raced to the bathroom sink barely in time. So much for the delicious mushroom pie.

Amma sniffed in the morning after a bleary-eyed vigil with basin at Suji’s bedside. “Best to stick to eating pommes-frites (French fries) from now. No more mushroom dishes for you!” With that, Suji determined not to undertake any more experiments in eating French cookery beyond the known staples of “du pain”( bread), croissants, French fries and La Vache qui Rit (Laughing cow) cheese cubes, and above all ‘thayir saadam’ ( curd rice) and potato chips- her favorite TV dinner.

Another of Suji's now seriously limited food adventures was a passion for a garlic flavored soft cheese. Suji would sneak up to the refrigerator to spoon out tablespoons of the stuff into a small bowl, and Amma was always wondering why it kept running out so fast. There can be too much of a good thing. One day, the point of satiety was reached, after which Suji turned her nose up at it and refused to finish up the generous supply that Amma had laid in.

Lunch at school was a routine affair- Peanut butter sandwich or occasionally chapati rolled up with a filling of sugar and ghee, along with apple juice or milk from the cafeteria. Suji was happy enough to munch these for a while, but as time passed, the peanut butter sandwich's charm palled, and she attempted sneaking it into the kitchen trashcan before Amma discovered it half uneaten in her lunchbox and gave her a solid scolding. Suji took to bundling up remnants in a paper napkin and surreptitiously discarding it before the lunch monitors could see her in the school cafeteria.


Lekhni said...

I'm surprised you loved taking chapatis to school. No peer pressure to bring only French dishes, or sandwiches or mac and cheese?

Sujatha said...

Actually, since I didn't have much interaction with my peers, any looks of disapproval would just roll right off my back.Zero peer pressure - one of the advantages of feeling like the perennial outsider, I guess;)
My son used to happily take curd rice to school while he was in elementary, but started turning his nose up at it by the end of third grade. He's a school cafeteria fiend now. I'll just have to wait and see where M is headed with her lunch habits this coming year.