14 July 2006

putting it where it counts

there's a south indian breakfast item that is not dosa. it's called 'putta' or 'put', likely with an infamous malayali half-vowel tacked somewhere along the end. they roast rice flour and steam it in a sultry cynlinder that attaches conviently to the top of a pressure cooker, so you end up with a thick cylinder of ricey goodness with coconut and salt (naturally, as their is no music without rhythym, there is no cooking without salt) mixed in.

supposedly. actually 'put' is just the latest in my novel series of south indian culinary Disasters. the first time i tried to make it (with mashed up banana instead of coconut on the bottom of the steam tube) the holes clogged, the pressure accelerated, and a tube of uncooked rice erupted like a snowy volcano all over the kitchen (ie counter and pressure cooker). today's experiment, with all recommended ingredients, ended up less spectacularly in the backyard mango/plastic pit. it just never seemed to finish cooking.

there's a lot of room here for interpretation about the gods. my initial hunches are:

1. in writing a cookbook i somehow manifested a reality in which i'm not supposed to cook any more.

2. flowing with the indian currents of spacetime, i hadn't had my own kitchen for the last eight months, and should have kept it that way.

3. i don't even know the name of the kitchen god, and that's really Who's getting in my way.

4. all i want to be eating is dosa and mangos anyhow, and i should just stick to my tava on this one.

all of this borne out by the fact that the one thing mateo and i acknowledge as a culinary success is our dosa/chutney making, neighbors be politely ignored. our dosa are large, brown, thin, and crispy -- better than the restaurants in all dimensions except size. our chutney employs hand-grated coconut, grandma's "mixie" (ie robot), and no added water to thin the tasty fatty goodness.

we can afford that, along with kilos upon kilos of mangos, because we are imperialist dogs. one kilo of mangos costs as much as five kilos of tapioca. that kilo of tapioca keeps us satisfied (the both) for two days, with rice, whereas matt and i generally need 2-3 kilos each of mangos to keep our sticky hands pleasantly aloft.

so there's the asymmetry of mangolandia always -- alongside some cumin or coriander -- right in your face. luckily, the already odius comparisons wither even more under the scrutiny of indian infinity. the scale of everything in this country -- death, disaster, love, giving, inequality, bounty, abundance, spectacle, and amazon -- defies anything i've experienced in normal spacetime/bodymind consciousness.

so i'm ready to come home. i'm ready to be shocked and appalled, to listen my own music, to eat apples and to feel the crisp air of the olympic peninsula.

kind of.

i'm also ready to be here forever, to careen down mountain roads in buses which, despite a chassis of steel and plastic, scream a living amazonian awareness in their everpresent encounter with death, racing across any lines the government cares to paint, hot on the trail of the "limited stop" ideology, intervening cows, rickshaws, trucks, and elephants be (smilingly) damned.

basically, i'm going to hold off on the recipes indefinitely. until i get some that i can do. or stop trying. the music never steps and the fasting never ceases to appeal to me.

one love,


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