Literally translated, expression is the conveying or representing of an idea or a feature. Yet every artist knows that in every feeling that manifests into art there’s the said and there’s the unsaid and that is where the world of language stops and the world of feeling and believing starts.
Just like art, Food is an expression … a manifestation of the said and the unsaid.
Food conveys, it talks in many ways whether it is a dish speaking about the chefs passion when he created it or an ingredient that has served as a medium of artistic expression , trust me food talks.
The Parmesan for example isn’t just a cheese-it talks about the patience of the humble peasant of Emilia Romagna of 1500s, allowing the cheese to mature for 24 months just like they would wait for a crop to ripen till the right time of harvest.
Our own Biryani is another wonderful expression of patience and perfection, tasting it could bring out a lot of conversations and feelings yet one common feeling that it exudes is appreciation for this grain , this wonderful medium that has lent itself to the hands of many an artist for over eight thousand years. Getting refined and evolved in this process we could probably write an encyclopedia about the evolution of rice but let me leave you with a fact that there are more than a million recorded and unrecorded rice preparations worldwide!
Or the traditional Kasundi for example – For a good Kasundi that would make your eyes water, the process would typically start on Akshaya Tritiya, using fresh harvested and dried Mustard, would take as much as a week to make and be left out to sun a little more before it could be used. The conversations I have had with people w.r.t the closely guarded Kasundi recipes can make for a book on its own!
This food induced self-talk stems from the strength of food as a fulfilling artful expression that we can see, taste and smell.
That’s why food memories are so vivid. Every time I taste a good kakori kebab it immediately takes me 20 years back when I first tasted it at Munir ustad’s shop and I can feel that moment now, am sure all of us have our “time travel” dishes.. Amazing right? That’s how good a conversationalist food is…
Here’s a recipe to test your patience
Aged homemade Mustard
100 g mustard seeds
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/3 cup white wine
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
big pinch of chilli powder
2-4 tablespoons warm water, if necessary
optional: 1-3 teaspoons raw mango paste
1. Combine all the ingredients, except the mango. Cover, and let stand for 2-3 days. 2. Put the ingredients in a blender and whiz until as smooth as possible. Add water if the mustard is too thick. Store in an earthen pot for a month at least before using