That is when the piercing sound of “MUM you are poisoning us”, a statement that cut through the air like a knife. On reflection, is that a serious accusation? Do I get to tell my side of the story before I get death stares from everyone in the room?
Silence enveloped the room like a thick fog. It seemed that everyone had fallen into a trance in a world inundated by thick-skinned people faking deafness. Selective hearing is a funny thing, especially when everyone in the room heard what was said. With a few sputters and orchestrated coughs everyone made a beeline for the nearest water dispenser. An escape from reality or was it avoiding confrontation? Everyone seemed miraculously thirsty as the clock struck 12.00 pm. Cinderella time beckoned as heels were dug in for a showdown.
Let me take you on a journey. It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon as the family bees all gathered to the hive for a feed. The sun shone down on the azaleas, camellias and orchids in this suburban garden. Broken nails and sun burnt hands bore testament to the story of this housewife’s well fertilised and nourished garden. A call for “can I help you” was immediately accepted and the eldest daughter was asked to cut the cauliflower to add to the feast on the table. That is when the piercing sound of “MUM you are poisoning us”, a statement that cut through the air like a knife.
On reflection, is that a serious accusation? Do I get to tell my side of the story before I get death stares from everyone in the room? What did I do to invite such a loathsome statement? I can confidently say I did not commit a heinous crime. On reflection, after a few glasses of wine, I think I can admit to being ‘sort of’ guilty. The word ‘sort of’ is not an admission of trying to poison anyone. The expression ‘sort of’ can compare to the millennial’s frequently used words of ‘whatever’, ‘because’ or ‘ah hah’. It is neither an admission nor a denial of events. It is a ‘sort of’ sitting on the fence word that is not really an open and shut case.
Every culprit has a story. Mine is woven into my Indian heritage. Yes, you read right … my heritage drove me to it!
The nation of India, where I had a wholesome upbringing, is a nation of recyclers. Waste not want not was the catch phrase of every household. Take the example of clothing. My brother’s red-checked shirt was handed down to me to wear with a flouncy skirt. If the Kardashians were in vogue at the time, I would have given them a run for their billions in the fashion stakes. The other side of the coin, red checked coverings made great tablecloths to which I was ‘sort of’ unaware.
In the kitchen all fruits, vegetables, skins, seeds and all edibles were consumed in its entirety. If it was a few days old and not ‘sort of’ fresh, it was still used as cooking it would kill any germs. More than a week old edibles with an iota of freshness left in it, would be recycled. The sodden part would be cut out and cooked. A fact!
Exhibit A in question was a cauliflower which had ‘sort of’ a few brown spots as it got overlooked in the lower shelf of the fridge. My recycling gene swished out a knife and cut out the bits. What I had in my hand was a work of art, white and pure to be devoured and relished. What I had in the bin were a few bits of mouldy brown matter. This moment was the flash point as the bubble burst and accusations of me trying to poison the family flew through the air.
This scenario had no blood or blood curdling screams, no incriminating weapons used or no corpses in sight. Only death glares, looks that could kill and bruised heritage lay on the kitchen table. The wiper dipper snapper then continued to give me a lesson on how infection in spores could latently harbour the world’s worst germs. So there I was—trialled by a kangaroo court and hung out to dry my bruised ego. Years of kitchen expertise which was handed by generations of women folk was being questioned.
There should be laws to safeguard one’s heritage which is sanctimonious. It is sacrilege to pooh-pooh years of culinary secrets with modern findings. I cannot wait for Nigella Lawson to sign off her books to say that everything old is becoming new again. What is one woman’s poison is another’s cup of delicacy.
‘Youth is wasted on the young,’ said George Bernard Shaw and I will find solace in those words.
Top photo caption: Nigella Lawson