I had an expat friend visiting me a couple of days ago.
Frankly, it was a very bizarre situation. I almost relived the culture shock of a new bride at her in-law’s.
So this is the first scene in my kitchen every morning:
- I buy a packet of milk, cut it open and pour it into a vessel, especially designated for milk only (or else the water smells of milk or the milk may sour up and the endless possibilities to freak my mom in law!)
- Then I put it onto the stove and watch it – patiently as if it were a work of divine art – I am pretty sure if I stared at any other inanimate object with so much concentration I could reduce it to ashes.
- It warms up then boils and rises till the brim –which could be about 8-10 minutes. I further simmer it for another 5 minutes.
- So that the milk is ‘purified’ which sort of translates to making it devoid of most vitamins A-Z. Any further heating and the milk might just decide to become colorless.
- And then throughout the day I find myself subjecting milk to constant torture of warming, heating and cooling process – Heat it up for tea/coffee – let it cool so I don’t burn my tongue etc.
Expat’s question: ‘Why would you subject milk bought off the store to so much cruelty? Boiling – heating – cooling – warming – cooling??? ‘
I bite my lips and put on an intense look in my eyes and say – ‘that’s how I like it’. (Later I google and discover apparently milk is supposed to be boiled not more than once and then warmed not more than twice so as to keep its nutrients intact – Oh yea Science, I dare you to tell my MIL this!)
Thank God I came up with a conclusive statement rather than an honest justification which could only go: ‘Umm because my grandma did the same, so does my mom and mom in law – I don’t like to question existential practises. I like following tradition – quite blindly.’
The expat doesn’t stop there. ‘So, do you like your breakfast cereal with warm milk too?’
My mind says : Damn! I may like to have boiled brown rice with ketchup or bread dipped in orange juice! Stop questioning my practices!
Instead I say : ‘Umm..Nahh of course not. However breakfast cereal is a very western concept and we believe in elaborate cooked meals – rotis, idlis, dosas, upma. (o boy! We do!!).’
The expat’s eyebrows curl up at these random syllables put together – dosa idli roti upma???
Never mind. Then, I hurriedly change the topic to global warming, polar belts melting, pollution – anything to ward her attention off my small world and dutiful routine!
I wait for her to leave and then ponder over the milky discussion.
Really is there another way of having breakfast cereals and really can milk be just poured off the packet and drank?
What a waste of my 20mins every day (Precisely why I haven’t actually risen to the heights I am capable of conquering – those 20 mins may have made all the difference – imagine Newton boiling milk when the apple was supposed to fall on his head – see the point?).
I have never till date enjoyed having breakfast cereals. I had a pretty deprived childhood which involved all things junk but not breakfast cereal – maybe the sugary goo doesn’t really qualify as junk!
So I introduced myself to them only when I started staying alone and had little time to cook, which is when I wondered why on earth would I eat this soggy slushy mush when I could just have a toast of bread and a glass of warm milk?
Never really went back to cereals till this conversation happened.
I then poured a glass of warm milk and put it in the refrigerator (more milk torture!)
After about an hour I took it out. Emptied some cereal into a bowl and poured some cold milk into it.
Put a spoon into my mouth – Crunch Crunch Crunch – really??
My disconnected mind thinks in patches ‘cereal not equal to soggy? Crunchy – really?’
All these years of ignorance! Now I know why half the world wakes up to breakfast cereal. Bye Bye Idli Dosa Upma – I have now found my nirvana – Now my family will wake up to the goodness of breakfast cereals!