Thursday, 21 May, 2009


Tomatoes. I love them.
But this hasn't always been the case.
Take for example this nightmare I had when I was a kid. It wasn't a nightmare really, but a picture that played endlessly, over and over in my subconscious - or is it unconscious? - mind. It involved a chef wearing spotless chef's whites, a spotless chef's hat and an impossibly wide grin (imagine a slightly eerie version of Martin Yan, the host of the now sadly absent-from-Indian-TV cooking show Yan Can Cook), holding in one hand a humungous, all-purpose Chinese Chef's Knife...
...which moved slowly to and fro, slicing thinly an especially cheerful-looking specimen of the tomato family that oozed juice as the knife cut through its membranes, tissues and whatever else tomatoes contain. This description, I can sense, communicates none of the nameless dread that enveloped me then as I watched, unable to tear my eyes away, unaware that it was all just a dream.
At the time, I hated tomatoes. It wasn't the flavour - I didn't mind them pureed to within a micron of their lives - but the texture that so repulsed me and unfailingly brought forth the gag reflex as I accidentally ingested a piece that had somehow failed to lose all its structural integrity.
Suddenly, I don't know when exactly, I began to like tomatoes, in any form - raw, sliced thinly, thickly, diced into cubes tiny or chunky, carved expertly but unnecessarily into flower-like shapes. Even partially cooked, not entirely pureed tomatoes.
What I draw the line at is ketchup. Not ketchup per se - it's okay to dip the sharp end of a samosa or a point on the outer curve of a vada in a bit of ketchup - but the dousing, courtesy a red squeezy bottle, of such quantities of the ooze as to render the taste of whatever's being doused entirely negligible. Once, I even saw a friend of mine - heck, I sat next to him as he did the dastardly deed - draw squiggly patterns on a pizza with ketchup. How, I ask, did civilisation come to this?


Sottai said...

While Ketchup may indeed be a sign of our civilizational moribundity, you have to admit that sometimes, when eating at a certain multinational pizza chain, for instance, it is the only ingredient/condiment that has any taste whatsoever.

Jam, on the other hand, is incredible. Who needs ketchup when you have jam. And Thakkali Thokku. Though I'd like to see someone eat Pizza with either of them.

Ghanshyam Nair said...

Multi-national chain pizza - yes, I see the logic of that argument. Trouble is, when this friend of mine did his ketchup-slathering, we were eating not at a multinational chain, but at this now sadly defunct place opposite DG Vaishnav College named 'Hot Bakkers'. And Hot Bakkers' cheese feast pizza tasted pretty damn good.
And yes, thakkali thokku is the condiment that symbolises the loftiest peaks of human endeavor.
Jam, on the other hand... I seem to remember you having a jam-topped oothappam at Saravana Bhavan - did this actually happen or is it something out of a surreal dream?

Sottai said...

Haha. Yes, i did indeed. It was called the '7 Taste Uttapam', and one of the tastes was Mixed fruit jam.

It was quite nice, actually.

Tashi said...