This is the unedited version of my story as it appears in today's (2 Feb 2007) issue of HT Cafe.
I used to be an honest person.
Used to be…Off late it’s been another story totally… Each new day sees me conquer new lows in dishonesty! I stretch the truth, connive, plot and plan, resort to all sorts of disguises and wiggle, weasel, smuggle, sneak and lie!
I remember being relieved when my son grew out of the phase in which when food had to be dive bombed into his mouth to the tune of “here comes a plane”, or “here comes a train”. Until then I served dinner confident that it would be enthusiastically received, spinach was spinach and beetroot was beetroot and my son had to eat it, because I told him “you don’t have a choice”. The day came when he said “I DO have a choice!”
Suddenly nothing was edible anymore unless it came in a packet of some sort! Grocery shopping required telepathy since the flavour of the moment changed with the moment - one week the mushrooms went totally untouched and the next week they are wiped out! Getting him to tell me what he wanted became a reconnaissance mission; I mean how does one serve “something nice” at every meal? Planning meals became a steep upward climb of the food pyramid and mealtimes were riddled with land mines of cooked carrots that were “too soft” beans that “hurt the throat” and something or everything being either too cold, to hot (when you warm it up) or just plain “not nice…” Can’t argue with that!
And then inspiration struck in the form of Calvin (of comic book fame) whose, food usually takes on a life of its own. That evening I presented my son with “worms in monster blood” and waited with baited breath. He slurped down every last strand of my gorily rechristened pasta in spinach sauce! It is a FMCG mantra to package things the way your clients want to see them and who am I to argue? Since then dragon flesh (beetroot salad), monkey brains, (paneer bhurji) or some other innovatively named stomach-turning dish is always on the menu. If your hackles aren’t on end yet try ant soup (dal with mustard tadka)!
But the subterfuge doesn’t end with renaming dishes. I sneak “monster blood” (spinach puree) into everything from Paranthas to mashed potatoes of course, but I’ve also mastered the art of disguise (ing food)! I camouflage mashed chickpeas in sandwich spreads, knead dal into rotis and sneak carrots into anything with tomato! I plot to serve chunks of fruit, salad or roti wraps when my son is at his lowest – in front of the TV. I have discovered cookie cutters with a vengeance and spend hours concocting food pictures of vegetable fish and starfish rotis swimming through with spinach seaweed on blue plates, star and moon idli platters and broccoli tree forests complete with vegetable animals! I stretch the truth – pizza is a whole wheat base, spread with vegetable enriched puree and topped with a tofu cheese mix. I connive and only stock cereals as snacks. The grater and the chopper are the newest weapons in my arsenal since they render vegetables to such a consistency that they get into the little of pasta or stick to rice so they can’t be picked out and deposited on the edge of little plates. I smuggle SMUGGLE vegetables into EVERYTHING!
Yes, I have sunk to the lowest depths in my pursuit to feed my son a nutritionally balanced meal but I tell my story in the hope that it makes your children eat their greens!