Prabhakar Subramaniam

Recipes - Poem by Prabhakar Subramaniam

It is not as if

They are soft drink formulas

That need to be guarded

Like classified secrets

And cannot be given access to

For unauthorised personnel

They have been handed down

From generation to generation

Mother to daughter,

Daughter-in-law to your son,

Sometimes shared with neighbours

Serving apprenticeship at home,

Now there are the channels, websites and books too

But they will not give you

The insider tips to make your dish

Delicious not merely palatable -

As for me, I am still grateful

To one or more mentors

Who did not laugh

At my early attempts

To get the ingredients right

For the standard dal gravy

To go with rice

And encouraged me

To venture out to sweets and savouries

This is not about them

But about that woman

(I do not want to take her name

May her rice be always overcooked)

Who tells me how to make chutney

Casually over phone the other day

(She must have been showing off

Her culinary skills before some visitor)

Reads out the entire recipe

I gave her in the first place

Tells me she discovered

How to do it all by herself

Repeats my dialogue back to me

'It's just adding one onion here

And taking away one chilli there'

Then ends her conversation

Helpfully suggesting

'You can always ask me for tips! '

That did it! I will not give anyone

Any recipe anymore,

I know how to make your idlis softer

But I will not tell you

Not on your life!

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, August 22, 2012

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