Hello there and welcome! After years of loving, learning, failing, somewhat succeeding but having way too much fun in the kitchen, I am excited to share my experiments!
A few ideas lingered in my head for what I would present now that I'm making my cooking frenzy somewhat official, but like other instances in life, inspiration struck at the most unexpected of moments. A couple of weeks ago, Karthik (my husband) and I were getting back home from a weekend outing and stopped for an eis on the way. As he was getting his, I floated away, peering into the dimly-lit window of a closed shop next door. Like a jewel in the rough, a tiny origami boat necklace lying at the foot of the display shined at me and just like that, it took me back a few decades. K came out of the parlor, but I continued to gaze at the origami boat dreamily, looking through the drawers of my childhood in my head. A photo series came to mind, perhaps my first introduction to paper boats. Here are a few from it.
My father shot these pictures of me while we were still living in Kakinada, my hometown that I have little connection to, now. My sister had not yet arrived into the world, and as you can guess, I was too little to retain any memory of this activity other than the physical photos themselves. Yet, these are personally iconic images to me- a little bit of myself, and really, a lot of my parents. I’m sure everyone has some from their childhood.
Funny thing is, the story behind these pictures had always been mystical to me- until this August, on my trip back to india. My father told me how he got down more than knee-deep in this little pond, waiting for the perfect moment to snap a few pictures of me setting sail little paper boats that he made especially for this. My beautiful mother is helping me out with the herding (and perhaps making sure I don’t fall in!) These photos are the embodiment of my parents, their love and the lengths they went to (and continue to), to give us these perfect little moments and memories.
Soon after the little blast from the past, I wanted to recreate a little something of these pictures, this time from me to my parents. A souvenir perhaps much more vivid to my parents, than what it is to me- a magical hidden garden picnic. I wonder what else we did that day...ate candy and chased bugs...?
Where as a designer the comfort of nostalgia is often hard to evoke, food transcends all such limitations and the simplest things do so much to feel at home. Paramannam is one such thing. It’s the Telugu version of one of the most universal and comforting dishes in the world: the rice pudding. It was one of the most common desserts I ate growing up, for festivals, for guests or just for fun. Rice slow-cooked in milk, laced with powdered cardamom and to finish, a golden streak of melted jaggery that gives it its caramely hue.
But those boats, I thought. The light-hearted fun, the candy colours and the humble form. I got to work with a bunch of pastry sheets, and you can see, had a bit too much fun and produced an entire battalion of little boats, dipped in my grown-up favourite, chocolate. I indulged this paramannam in another taste of home, saffron. Dipped in milk for the golden hue and blended with honey, instead of jaggery. And did I already mention what an unexpected and beautiful combination saffron and chocolate makes? So here it is, my humble offering to my parents, for which of course they will have to visit me in order to actually taste!
The landscape of our new home, Berlin is so vastly different from Kakinada. Fall is upon us and winter, threatening to approach. I would’ve loved a little lake-side picnic, but the Volkspark Friedrichshain that we are next door to, is as always, nothing short of magnificent, and at this time with its golden foliage. So K and I packed some up and walked over on a gorgeous Sunday evening.
The most interesting part about the photos though was that my father had actually submitted the best of the lot to a competition that came later; and so they are likely gone forever as we haven’t come across the negatives so far. I wonder what those were like...But then again, I have boxes full of such childhood photos at home, in all kinds of shapes and sizes, doing all kinds of sweet and also very very silly things. And I have my parents to thank.