In defiance of a maxim ~ One man’s food is another man’s food

I was at a loss for words today, ( Have I exhausted them already ?) and couldn’t quite come up with a poem so I went through my picture gallery to create something like a prose poem for the South Indian thali that we enjoyed at brunch a couple of weeks ago. (This afternoon though, was spent at an Italian Easter brunch where the server addressed me as ”Signora” and that made me giggle. I mean, how sweet and quaint !) Happy Easter too !

The South Indian restaurant from weeks ago had displayed this wonderful floral Rangoli ; pretty in a brass bowl
A South Indian Thali, there’s an art to preparing and eating this platter of vegetarian food

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You know the old adage … one man’s food is another man’s … but this plate comes full circle like time in a lazy Susan that you may turn anticlockwise or minutes ahead as you take in grains of soft cooked rice or wheat rolled into round moons, in turn with a lentil broth, drumsticks chopped to sound a liquid , fragrant in leaves of curry. Yes, there’s a tree with those exact leaves in leaflets and it grows in my mother’s garden. The gravy runs thick in coconut that was high up a tree some time ago, now milled on a grindstone of effort. Some of the offerings are meant to lull the palate, others to provoke excitement, like a fanciful life, pickled in lime and raging in the spices of Kerala. I think it is a Raga they play in notes of cumin, coriander, mustard, fenugreek and fennel, seeded in the double reed of a Nathaswaram, the sound bouncing around painting a canvas in taste. The senses are a kaleidoscope of colour, then some sour curds to settle your stomach, like a blanket for the gut lest it mutiny. There is no conflict in bitter, astringent, pungent, salty, there’s no umami but hey, it’s not Japan. Then finally the sweet seduction of a milk pudding, like life.

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Definitions: ( All sourced online from Wikipedia and they pretty much sum up what the terms mean)

Nathaswaram, is a double reed wind instrument from South India . It is used as a traditional classical instrument in Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Kerala. This instrument is “among the world’s loudest non-brass acoustic instruments”. It is a wind instrument partially similar to the North Indian shehnai but much longer, with a hardwood body and a large flaring bell made of wood or metal.

A raga or raag is a melodic framework for improvisation akin to a melodic mode in Indian classical music.The rāga is a unique and central feature of the classical Indian music tradition, and as a result has no direct translation to concepts in classical European music. Each rāga is an array of melodic structures with musical motifs, considered in the Indian tradition to have the ability to “colour the mind” and affect the emotions of the audience.

[[ I like the the song Mamavatu by Susheela Raman. This Carnatic composition is of Mysore Vasudevachar, known in the original as Mamavatu Sri Saraswati which is set in Raga Hindolam to pay homage to Goddess Saraswati. It’s an initiation into the more traditional Carnatic music. I listen to a lot of Raga purely for the sound. I do not understand the language nor lyrics of the same unless it is in Hindustani classical from the North ]]

The curry tree (Murraya koenigii) is a tropical to sub-tropical tree in the family Rutaceae (the rue family, which includes rue, citrus, and satinwood), and is native to Asia. The plant is also sometimes called sweet neem, though M. koenigii is in a different family to neem, Azadirachta indica, which is in the related family Meliaceae.

Thali (meaning “plate”) or Bhojanam (meaning “full meals) is a round platter used to serve food in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. Thali is also used to refer to an Indian-style meal made up of a selection of various dishes which are served on a platter.

Rangoli is an art form originating in the Indian subcontinent, in which patterns are created on the floor or a tabletop using materials such as powdered lime stone, dry rice flour, coloured sand, quartz powder, flower petals, and coloured rocks.

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