My mother cooked like most women of her era — boiled cabbage until it was limp and colourless, cooked meat until the final trace of blood was drained and then cooked it some more. Her spices were limited to mixed herbs and Keens curry powder, neither of which altered her dull, lifeless cooking.
I tried many a trick to avoid eating her food, but she was adamant I couldn’t leave the table until my plate was clean. Fortunately, I stumbled on the perfect solution she never discovered. I filled my mouth with food, went to the bathroom and spat the lot out the window. Consequently, I was so skinny she fed me Malt Extract, which at least, tasted better than her cooking.
You can’t imagine my delight when I arrived in India to discover that eating was something to savour. No longer did I have to chew and chew on the same piece of tough meat until my jaw ached. I loved South Indian food so much, I put on weight when most travellers grew thinner from Delhi belly.
Today I have a lazy susan in my kitchen devoted to spices which reveals the journeys I’ve taken and the tastes I’ve discovered.