'She didn't eat beans, disliked spinach, abhorred peas, but mostly she wouldn't eat things the name of which she didn't know, which seemed to consist of the entire vegetable kingdom.'
'For some reason, she finds even dahi unpalatable,' sighs Kishore Singh.
Illustration: Uttam Ghosh/Rediff.com
Panic is not something our household is given to, but these past months every time our son's fiance is due to visit, a feeling of alarm grips the kitchen staff.
The lovely lady, with otherwise eclectic tastes, isn't much given to diversity when it comes to food habits.
She is what our friends describe as a 'hard core' non-vegetarian, meaning she doesn't ascribe to things leafy and green.
Her reaction to salads would be amusing if it was not an affront to my wife who has made a career of nurturing micro-greens and trimming them over pretty much everything served at the dining table.
A goat would be happy with the result. Unfortunately, my daughter-in-law prefers the goat to the greens.
Since there's always more food on the table than one can eat, we didn't at first notice the many things to which the new incumbent had an aversion.
She didn't eat beans, disliked spinach, abhorred peas, but mostly she wouldn't eat things the name of which she didn't know, which seemed to consist of the entire vegetable kingdom.
For some reason, she finds even dahi unpalatable. Nor is she very adventurous when it comes to cuisines apart from Indian, though she sometimes like to include Szechwan Chinese in her diet.
I say Szechwan because it would not be nice to acknowledge that she likes Indian Chinese. (We aren't food snobs and don't judge people by their dining preferences, and even have some friends who like Pandara Road Chinese.)
I can imagine she's terror-struck about eating at home because she tries to get our son to order in whenever they are planning on dining with us.
While he's scouring through takeaway menus, there's a kerfuffle in the kitchen which does not like its services summarily dismissed.
Would she like a nice cucumber sandwich (sorry, but they are out of tuna)?
Or, perhaps, a pizza (though the base is doughy)?
What about some chaat -- but, oh drat, that needs vegetables and yoghurt.
At first, the new incumbent into the family was force-fed by my wife in the hope that she might get her to change her mind, but ingrained habits are difficult to overcome.
Which is why we've started stocking up on sweets, which our son's fiance adores.
Desserts now make a regular appearance on the table, and can sometimes be spotted unconsumed at the back of the fridge weeks after they were made, or ordered.
Boxes of mithai and laddoo are plentiful. Cakes and cookies stagnate past their 'best before' dates.
She likes all manner of things fried. Almost by default now, we've started helping ourselves to cumin-spiked maththi and jalebis with coffee.
It's our eating habits that are changing, while our daughter-in-law remains steadfastly committed to hers.
It's when the young couple is travelling that the veggie genie is unleashed in our home.
Over the last two days, my wife has made sure we've been given brinjals, ash gourd, cabbage, turnips, carrots, beets, all manner of beans, both dried and fresh, and leaves of various descriptions, shoots and roots, as though to make up for lost opportunities.
"Why can't we have vegetables and meat together?" I asked my wife some days ago when I saw her smuggling some greens into the bathroom to eat slyly. "Because that would seem so rude," my wife riposted.
I guess it's too early to alert her about our son's stealthy forays to the basement ferrying plates brimming with chicken tikkas to feed a certain interested party.