The father’s sister had come a-visiting and I had taken her along to the grocery store when I first noticed it. There we were, sauntering through the aisles looking at assorted spices and grains and had just started to graze towards the vegetable section when I saw her start through the corner of my eye. She gulped and gave a longing howl.
I wonder if you have stopped to take a scuttle down a lush carrot field with a rabbit. Many people don’t. Let me enlighten you. You will notice the rabbit react much the same way as the aunt did on seeing the yams in the vegetable section. The nose will wiggle towards the preferred veg. and try as they may, their feet will be dragged towards it. I could only marvel at genetics and wonder how genes could be this accurate. The father reacts the same way to the yam. He buys it, knowing fully well that it will not be accorded the same kindness as the beans. Yet he goes for it, stating that he likes nothing more than yam bajjis (or yam fritters). You can see him salivating at the mention of the crisp coating over the yams and the hot, steaming nature of the delicacy.
I hear from the father and his siblings that my grandmother was exceptionally fond of yam bajjis. She liked the yams fried golden and crunched at them happily with her cup of coffee. She threw the bajjis in with a precision that would have professional basketball players envious and then, she contentedly poured the coffee into her mouth from a steel tumbler poised at the right angle and a height of 3.2 metres above lip level. When one saw her then, one could see a contented soul.
That must have been it. A vegetable that gave their mother so much joy must have been the reason the father and his siblings love yam bajjis. I chided my scientific half for rushing to a yam-gene-conclusion.
I indulged the aunt and bought her the yams. One cold evening, I walked in to the kitchen to see a factory in progress. On one side, golden, crisp yam bajjis were being fried and on the other, delicious steaming cups of tea and coffee were being made to accompany them. She told me that since children usually did not like yams as much as potatoes, she made potato bajjis and yam bajjis. You have to grant it to grandparents to take everyone’s tastes into account, even while making something as simple as an evening snack. I smiled and settled down happily to tuck into the yams bajjis. The aroma of fried asafoetida and rice flour is irresistible.
The toddler son, was having his day with the bajjis too. But I noticed something weird. He was not going for the potato bajjis. He was going for the yam bajjis. If given a potato one, he was giving them to me and was agog when given the yam ones. His grandfather will be thrilled to hear that for sure. Maybe, there is a yam-bajji-gene that has resurfaced in his generation. My grandmother, (Visalam Paati ) will be very pleased.
PS: I am referring to Raw Plantains in the article, but Yam Genes sound better than Raw Plantain Genes, so I am not changing all references.