Saturday, January 31, 2015

British Invasion

It is a well known fact about Indian cuisine that for all its roots in ancient systems of thinking about body and spirit, it lapped up its invaders' flavors with relish, incorporating techniques and ingredients and all manner of tastes like a voracious maw, always hungry. From the Mughals came the delicacy of a court cuisine with roots in Persia and Turkey, with their nut-based kormas and saffron-scented biryanis; from the Portuguese came chilies and tomatoes and potatoes, ingredients without which most Indian cooking is basically unthinkable.

The British may have come to India for pepper, that most precious of spices, but they stayed for much more. And their time in India had the effect that any other colonizer has on every other land, though perhaps different in its particulars: brutality, exploitation, theft, an abhorrence of the native, all the things one comes to expect of empires, including ours, now.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Hibernation Mode

I hibernated over New Year's -- my daughter wasn't around, I didn't feel like driving to New York City to meet friends, I was obsessed with knitting and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The time was ripe for a good old-fashioned hibernation, in other words. I mostly ate popcorn and mandarin oranges, but I did manage to make one meal that I thought was fitting for my cozy lair.