Food is an important part of our lives, especially if you’re a Parsi. We have three New Year Days in a year and all three are celebrated with food. If you have ever attended a Parsi wedding or Navjote (initiation ceremony of a child into the Zoroastrian faith) you would notice that there is certain energy present. It has nothing to do with the couple or the child; it’s got everything to do with food. After you have blessed the couple or the child and started to mingle, the first thing that you do is catch the waiter and ask him who the caterer is. Accordingly, your mind starts to wander towards and anticipate the food. Just to satisfy your hunger you will go the bar, Oh yes there are drinks as well, and down some whiskeys or vodkas. Then you catch the waiter again ask him to serve you more chicken. And when you finally are seated to eat the food you become the food critic that is hiding in each and every Parsi.
I was a thin child. I used to survive only on basic dal and rice.. During my teenage years I was reaching for all the food that I had not tasted and from there started my journey into the world of food and my addiction to it. I started hearing all the comments by my PT teacher. Peers would compare me with elephants. However nothing seemed to faze me. I remember a time when all my peers would diet so as to wear a special outfit at some occasion. At my school prom, I was the only girl with trousers while the rest of them were in pretty black dresses.
Food for me has been my savior, my solace. If things didn’t go well at the office meetings I would head to the local pizza joint and stuff myself with mozzarella. If things did go well at office meetings I would still do the same. Food became a part and parcel of my failures and celebrations.
You read and learn of people who are suffering from obesity, who have become completely immobile due to their weight. Then you follow a million diet plans, you start eating oats for breakfast, lunch and dinner, hoping to achieve the figure of that woman in the advertisement who said it would happen in two weeks. But let’s face it – the fat you accumulated for twenty years is not going to go in two weeks. It may not even go in two months. Just as smoking can’t be stopped overnight, weight gained over 15 wedding and 5 Navjotes a year and numerous dinners at restaurants is not going to vanish in two weeks.
Either we consciously and unconsciously watch what we are eating or we continue on our path to self-destruction. We need to understand that food is only a requirement for moving from one task to another i.e. it is consumed to give us energy. All this requires great will power – will power which compels us to not eat that second slab of chocolate. The will power which tell us that we don’t need the extra butter on our rotis. In this control lies our strength and our downfall. I completely understand the addiction that an alcoholic faces or a substance abuser faces. Each has their own downfall , some more extreme than the rest.
Being a Parsi, food is in our DNA. However I don’t enjoy cooking. For me, cooking is more stressful than therapeutic. Even if you put a gun against my head I will not be able to remember a recipe that I have cooked a million times. I can cook a basic dish but for dhansak and curry, I would rather hang up my apron and order from the closest Parsi take-away . If we Parsis weren’t renowned doctors or engineers or accountants we would be the best chefs in the world. Simply because of our love for food, would overcome our desire to change the world one spoon at a time.
September 13 2013.