I just made Moong Dal for the first time. Yesterday I ate a Mango for the first time. The one is more embarrassing that the other. Moong Dal is a literacy thing. Mango is a toddler thing. Much of what we put in our mouths and our heads is an accident of geography. 'Mother tongue' extends to our taste buds and our diets. The friend who just taught me to make Moong Dal learnt by helping her grandmother in the kitchen. Cooking was a part of her upbringing. She didn't use measurements, the ingredients have become words to her that she uses with the same ease as she speaks. She said her father was quite a cook. Her mother reserved her skills for groups of 50 or more. Most of her learning was with Gran.
Yellow Moong Dal
I also learnt to cook a few dishes from my mother, but cooking was largely a functional experience. We enjoyed the dishes we had and my Spaghetti Bolognaise is the kind of thing that legends are made of. It wasn't a continually changing, evolving hobby though. In fact, my repertoire narrowed over time to my favourites. Then I largely outsourced it to ready meals. I think eating healthily is a big contributor to happiness, but I am also trying to respond to various other challenges which make me think eating more of a plant based diet is worth trying. I am consciously trying to add things rather than trying to give things up though. I don't want it to feel at all self-sacrificial because I think the hero in me is a weakling. Expanding my diet feels very similar to learning a new language since there are a whole bunch of things I simply don't know how to cook, what they are, or how they taste. There is also the issue of having to train the taste buds. The idea of tasting something to see if you like it is only half the battle. There is stuff you may love... eventually. You have to get to the juice. Think of red wine, whisky, coffee or any other number of acquired tastes. I admit freely I have very little knowledge of spices. We talk about variety being the spice of life and yet without training you can live a monotongue life.
The Mango bit is a bit more embarrassing. I think I have even written about it on this blog before to publicly shame myself into eating more fruit. The stubborn, irrational toddler in me still gets a gagging feeling when handling messy fruit. There is something about the texture that makes me, to overuse the word, irrationally cringe. So yesterday I treated myself half parent, half toddler and sliced up a mango, breathing through the cringes. I kept telling myself how much I love mango juice. Then I ate it piece by piece. 'Now that wasn't so bad was it' big Trev tells toddler Trev. I even considered making train noises as I lifted the pieces to my mouth.
What my Moong Dal teacher did suggest though was to go visit Farmer's markets. Add to the story. The story and the friends was what convinced me to train my pallette for red wine and coffee. The idea of finding places that release food from being chore, and allow a tale from seed to tongue with all the senses involved in between sounds rather appealing.