Thursday, August 11, 2005

Childhood foodie memories meme

I have been tagged by Nupur of One Hot Stove to write my five favorite childhood memories. So here they are:

1. Diwali, the festival of lights

It is hard to imagine Diwali being spent anywhere else but in India. The festival is just for a day but we used to spend entire week with much fan fare and a lot of fireworks. It used to be a block party every night of the week culminating in an entire day of food, TV and more fireworks. All the sweets and savory snacks were homemade and my mom, aunts and grandmom spent their week making at least three sweets and three savories that included coconut fudge (burfi), ladoo and gulab jamun, two types of chakli and an Indian trail mix made of fried lentils and peanuts. That was followed by a lot of exchange with friends and relatives. By the end of that week, all of us would end up with a stomach ache associated with over-eating. My grandmother then handed out tablespoonfuls of herbal digestive aid which was also homemade.

2. Making pickles and pappodums

Our house in Madras (now Chennai) had a huge backyard with a wonderful mango tree. Its fruits were such that they were not suited for eating ripe but only when they were green. So there was a lot of achar (pickle) making with the loot since that was the only way they could be enjoyed. Nevertheless the aroma of sesame oil, fresh ground red chilies and spices was so enticing to attract even our friendly neighbors. All were sent home with a jar of pickles while the remainder were stored in the pantry in huge ceramic jars.

South Indians also eat a lot of fried papad like crispies with rice dishes. My grandmom preferred making it herself. A dough was made with different varieties of flour, chilies, lemon and buttermilk. It was pressed with something like a cookie press and sun-dried. All of us kids were involved in helping out and also shooing away birds.

3. Mid-day snack of yogurt and rice

Our traditional Brahmin-style of eating involved an elaborate lunch early in the morning around 10 AM, followed by a snack of idlis, dosas and coffee at 4 PM and a late dinner of rice at 8 PM. As kids, during summer vacation, we were pretty much drained of energy by 1 PM after playing at 110 F for several hours. So one of the ladies in the family mixed yogurt with cold rice and vegetable of the day, rolled them into bite-size morsels and placed it lovingly onto our palms, as we all sat around her and waited for our next bite. Many summers were spent so and still it feels just as good when I get to experience it again.

4. Non-vegetarian for the uninitiated

We are vegetarians by religious standards. But I have to blame my school friends for getting me to try chicken from their lunch box and prepared in a way I would like. I have been a chickenitarian ever since. May be one reason for my enjoying it so much is the way in which it is prepared in India, literally drowned in spices. IMHO, it is the only way I like it (but for the occasional Quaker Lube wings).

5. Hostel lunch of ramen noodles

As an undergrad student living in a dorm, many of our lunches were cooked Top Ramen noodles. We had an electric kettle for hot water and a casserole dish for soaking the noodles. Four packs of noodles were cooked this way and eaten communally from the same casserole by five hungry girls. Even without any vegetables or fancy cutlery, they were delicious. Late in the evening, one of us would venture out to the food cart outside to get some mirchi pakoras or vadas, to be consumed with tea.

Whew, probably this was one of my longest post. But I had a great time thinking about the fun I had as a kid.

Now if you are tagged next, here's what you do: Remove the blog at #1 from the following list and bump every one up one place; add your blog’s name in the #5 spot; link to each of the other blogs for the desired cross-pollination effect.

1. Farmgirl Fare
2. Becks & Posh
3. The Cooks Cottage
4. One Hot Stove
5. The green jackfruit

I know this meme has been going around for a long time. But I would be interested in reading the childhood foodie memories of:
1. Tanvi of From the Pantry
2. Jennifer of Taste everything once
3. Sue of Snackish


  1. Thanks for playing along! I loved hearing about your memories :) and can totally relate to them. Thanks for coming along on a trip down memory lane.

  2. My favourite wasnt curd rice with veg... it was curd rice with vathakuzhambu, absolutely awesome when my grandma made it. Damn, my mouth is watering just at the memory... it's been many years since she passed on, but the foodie memories never go! :)

    As for the non-veg part, i'm exactly like you, a chickenitarian. I rather like KFC, and ofc chicken cooked North Indian style - barbecued/baked or fried but not in a gravy.

    Your meme brought back lotsa memories! Thanks, Mika

  3. I just read this post. Oh my, I can relate to every single one except the chickenetarian and the Ramen noodle one. Instead of Patti, my mom used to do it for us. Only me and my brother sitting on the floor and she would do the same with curd rice and vatha kuzhambu. My brother would eat fast and my mom would scold me ,"Seekiram muzhungu. Avan moonu vai saapitacchu".
    Thank you for taking me back down my memory lane too..

  4. Nupur- I had a great time filling out the meme. Thodarumm, welcome to my place. Hope to see you around often. Shammi, I have not tried KFC yet after being in US for six years. Somehow the white insides of the chicken sans any masala seems not so appetizing.

    But I guess most southies share the 'thayir sadam' bond with our parents. BTW, during my latest trip to India, I noticed my nieces and nephew would not touch another rice course in the afternoon. It is mostly chips and 'bad' snacks.

  5. Hey Mika,
    We've started a food memory blog. Please can I use your memory piece on it?

    You can check us out on