Help! I’m rearing a gastrophile

| Updated on September 03, 2020

A parent rues that lockdown has turned his son into a rebel chef who only cooks all things foreign, exotic and expensive

* Lockdown has created gastrophiles and my son’s culinary dreams are a parent’s nightmare

Dear Editor,

I remember the time when I used to urge my college-going son to pick up life skills such as learning how to make a cup of tea, cooking a frugal dal-rice meal and ironing clothes.

We are in the fifth month of lockdown, and he has already baked at least 10 kinds of cakes and pies, a few types of breads and prepared various non-vegetarian dishes using all kinds of meats and numerous desserts with fancy ingredients. All this is a first in his 20 years of existence. These days he is threatening to diversify into Asian cuisine.

Dear Editor, lockdown has created gastrophiles and my son’s culinary dreams are a parent’s nightmare.

Yesterday he purchased some flat noodles, coconut milk, cane sugar and fish sauce from the neighbourhood store; apparently he had, the night before, dreamt of rustling up an Indonesian dish. I fear that the next shopping list will include seaweed, sticky rice and Japanese horseradish. I have lately observed him intently watching Japanese cooking videos on YouTube. He has even resourcefully identified a fishmonger who has assured him unlimited supplies of salmon and yellow fin tuna for sushi and sashimi.

When I first heard the word gastrophile, I thought it was a disease. Now I know it means someone who loves good food. Apparently, the world and its brother is a gastrophile. The ease of getting fancy ingredients online has spurred a new-found pride in being a foodie. My professor in law college once remarked that gluttony was a manifestation of cupidity. Today gluttons are being worshipped, as the huge fan followings of food vloggers, chefs and other TV experts indicate. I miss the late chef Anthony Bourdain, though. He lent an air of sophistication to gluttony, fusing it with travel, politics and culture. Of course, he also legitimised gluttony by weaving in those elements.

The pandemic-induced lockdown has unlocked our creative instincts. But experimenting with flashy cooking in uncertain times is not a creative pursuit, some would say; it is an assault on the sensibilities of a society struggling to survive.

But I cannot ignore the fact that the son’s cooking instincts are exceptional. His constant experiments, however, have impacted us in other ways: My grocery budget has shot up exponentially and so has the size of the son’s midriff. For Onam, he put on a new shirt and remarked that he had grown taller during the lockdown, pointing to his shortened shirt sleeve. “You have grown laterally, not vertically,” I said.

Gastrophiles have other ancilliary interests. Addicted to cookery shows on YouTube, they try to source all the props they see on such videos. It could be a kind of fancy utensil, a set of cloth napkins, cutlery and what have you, all for earning social capital on Instagram. The more creative ones even invest in Gopros and microphones to make their videos look professional.

Dear Editor, I strongly feel we should ban cookery shows on TV and social media in the interest of public health. Instead, we should air farm-to-plate shows and grandmas’ cooking videos on Krishi Darshan to encourage sustainable and indigenous cooking.

The son, meanwhile, is yet to learn how to brew chai.

Yours in despair,

An overfull father

(Yours Sincerely is a weekly record of grudges and grumblings from an anonymous reader)

Published on September 03, 2020

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