A trip to visit the relatives in Asia is always one fraught with culinary splendors and calorific disasters. Indians are a breed that show their love in myriad ways from throwing approving glances at the foreign-returned daughter wearing a bindi to making aloo parathas for breakfast.
Image Courtesy: Google – Idlis, Dosas, Sambhar, Chutney
Unfortunately for me, my reputation in the cooking department hit an all-time low with the aunts. One morning as the toddler son sat down to a breakfast of idlies, he announced in horror that idlies are not breakfast items, but items that make an occasional appearance in his lunch-box or sometimes at dinner, never for breakfast. (South Indians are a sturdy breed that can wolf down a half dozen idlies for breakfast followed by a lunch with three – five servings of rice, and a dinner of dosas. ) Therefore, this simple statement had a variety of responses, all of which psychologists will be delighted to note, were dramatic in the extreme. To make things worse for me, the toddler then sat down and polished off the idlies on his plate in rapid succession.
The aunts rounded on me:
Poor child loves idlies.
How long does it take to make one plate of idlies for breakfast everyday?
The poor dear says he eats just cereal.
The mother pushed her oar in with glee and the lot of them roasted my reputation over a slow grill, while the emaciated toddler bounded off to play. It was, therefore, a sobered me who made her way through the streets of India. The one you saw eating pooris, dosas and white toast with marmalade before the gong hit nine, was one who had been told off for not giving the children nutritious breakfasts.
It was during one of these breakfasts that I moaned about packing the daily calorie count by 9 AM. The brother-in-law, assured us that he would help us stay on track and henceforth appointed himself the Calorie counter for us. The brother-in-law is a confirmed case of being a gourmet, and has been declared incurable by the best of cooks. He can detect a repaired sambhar with a single glance. With one taste, he can tell you the archival date of said sambhar, and the best by date of the repaired version. For one that fond of the right tastes, I was dubious with his self appointed role as Calorie Master.
I need not have worried.
The next morning, as we set off on an early morning walk, the Calorie Master started counting. Every few steps, he upped the calories expended. A small hillock counted for 500 calories, and every few steps the calorie counter charged up ahead like an auto given a hot boost at the rear end with a rhino’s horn in 108 degree heat. By the time we settled in for breakfast, the Calorie Master announced that we had expended 2000 calories and we were therefore deemed fit to consume a sumptuous breakfast of 500 calories (pooris + masala dosa + slices of white bread with butter and jam + tea + fresh fruit). I must admit, I liked this version of the Calorie Counter better than the slow one that the bulky contraptions in gyms boast of.
Everybody questioned the Calorie Master, but nobody went unanswered. Unconvinced maybe, but unanswered, never. Pretty soon, scientists were called upon to lend their laws and principles to the cause.
The uncertainty principle said that: While it may be uncertain whether a 500 meter amble is 500 calories or 600 calories, there is no uncertainty in the fact that it merits a serving of ice-cream after lunch.
When Newton saw an apple fall, he knew that falling involves energy. Food falls into the stomach, therefore we are expending energy while eating food.
Einstein’s Theory of Relativity also states that food prepared by relatives do not have as many calories as food prepared by non-relatives. Therefore, it is safe to up the idli count.
My favorite was the Newton’s Sixth Law of Motion: When you eat, you motion.
Heisenberg, Newton and Einstein may have turned in their graves, but armed with these principles, I am proud to say, that we defied all natural laws of calorie consumption. We also laughed heartily the whole time the calorie calculations were afoot, that should have expended another 1000 calories a day at least.