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Sydney, Australia
My musings and meanderings on childhood - mine juxtaposed with that of my kids'. Everyday incidents and images from our life in Sydney turn my thoughts towards my own wonder years growing up in Bandra, Bombay, India.

30 March 2009

Eat Your Heart Out!

On Saturday, we met up with some friends for dinner. As we feasted on far too many calories, we got talking about how, when we were kids, going out for dinner was reserved for special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries. Diametrically opposite from life today when we dine out once a week...

In those days in Bombay, the choice was either between an Indian or a Chinese restaurant. Mexican, French, Lebanese or even Italian and Thai were unheard of. The excitement would build up a few days before the big event.
“Mum, can we have sweet corn chicken soup?”
“Dad, can we order American Chopsuey?" (it's a 'Bombay-Chinese' recipe that's YUM!)
 “Daddy, I like tandoori chicken,”
“Ma, will there be any ice-cream for dessert?”

Our minds conjuring up all sorts of fancy food feasts. “You can have whatevvvvvver you want,” would come Mum’s pat reply. She knew all too well that halfway through our gigantic bowl of soup, we’d be too full to ask for anything more. Big eyes, small stomach.

Oysters as an entree? I'll drink to that!

All dressed up in our “going out” clothes, we’d make our way to the restaurant. If it had air-conditioning, it was wayyyy cool, and not just temperature-wise. Feeling oh-so-important as the waiter handed us each a menu and placed the cloth napkins on our laps, we’d read what was on offer – all an act; for one, we could barely read, and two, mum and dad would really decide what and how much was ordered.

God forbid if one of us dropped our fork or spilt some water; dad’s voice would scold, “That’s why Mummy and I don’t take you out to five-star hotels.” Blame our childhood innocence for believing that dad actually had the intention or the means to make a family fine dining experience a reality!

And if we dined at some Moghalai restaurant, the end to the meal was the best bit. After clearing up our dishes and plates, the turbaned waiter would ceremoniously place hot water katoris in front of each of us. Our curry-stained little fingers danced in the bowl, squishing the lemon wedge which cut through the grease, while our minds willed the water not to get cold too fast.

The bill would be presented along with some digestives of sugar granules, jeera goli (sugar-coated cumin) and badishep (fennel seeds). “Don’t be greedy,” Mum would reprimand my brother, who, with one flick of the wrist, would empty the sweet treats into his shirt pocket. Dad totted up and then paid bill (in cash, no credit cards), left a tip, and we’d be off, back to our beds to dream of oodles of noodles and clinking cutlery.

So tell me, did you and your family eat out often when you were kids? What about nowadays? What's your favourite kind of cuisine? Do you prefer fine-dining or casual cafe food? And do you take pictures of your food on your phone?

1 comment:

  1. Ooh happy memories Ali! You've written this exactly like how I remember my dining out experiences as a child. We had a couple of Moghalai restaurants near our place that we as kids absolutely loved! The excitement of eating a biryani or tandoori chicken, the waiters with their napkins, the warmed plates and the lemon wedges in hot water....those really were things we looked forward to. Best times of my life!
    Keep writing, you are wonderful at it!


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