Ooh, boy! I can never imagine mouthing these lines when I stepped into my marital home nearly two decades ago! I, born into a Brahmin family (simply put, Brahmin is a caste of people who ‘apparently’ stay away from non-vegetarian food and alcohol) married my hubby, who comes from the Kayastha caste (people who can’t live without non-vegetarian food)! And, thus began a journey of culinary clashes, mastering the art of diplomacy and developing a taste for non-veg.
Hubby’s folks were flabbergasted to find out that their new DIL didn’t consume meat. Every time someone from the extended family came visiting, they would ask me if I had “learnt to eat non-veg.”
On our honeymoon, we had been to Shrivardhan, a coastal region in Maharashtra famous for its beaches and of course, its sea-food. So, there we were, roaming around idly, when hubby decided to prepare lunch for his new bride. He proposed a visit to the nearby fish market. It was my first trip to the place that was teeming with, what else, but fish of every kind, size, dimension! Some of you must know; it happens to be your favourite place in the world, isn’t it? No offence meant. So, there I was, holding onto hubby’s shirt sleeve for support, as he bargained for his favourite prawns.
A fisherwoman did try selling me her wares. ” Hey girl, buy this thing. It tastes heavenly when fried,” she cooed. Hubby turned around, and with a sly grin informed her that “this girl ain’t a fish-person.” The guffaws that followed resonate in my mind to this day!
A relative of hubby’s lived nearby and when he came to know we were honeymooning there, invited us for lunch. And, you can guess what he must have prepared. Fish curry and rice. Only. One look of pity from hubby was enough to tell the old man that something was, ahem, fishy. But then, I was the new DIL. I had to respect my in-laws. So, I sat down to eat and finish every thing that swam in my plate, much to the the old man’s delight and hubby’s guilt. The ice cream that we had later, made up for the fishy lunch.
Each time I attended a family function from the in-laws side, I would be asked if I had managed to give my taste buds a makeover. The menu almost always consisted of nonveg food, much to my chagrin. Talks would revolve around nonveg food, again, much to my discomfort. I would often get urged to at least taste the curry of the fish/chicken curry that was made. And, when I did oblige, a roomful of people would eagerly (and with pin drop silence) await my reaction on consuming the food they were so in love with!
MIL took it upon herself to transform her DIL into a pakka non vegetarian. And, me being the obedient DIL, began bringing the much-needed change in my food habits. However, a person who hasn’t relished nonveg food all her life, will definitely need time to unlearn certain habits, form some new ones, and develop certain tastes. If I felt like having some of the nonveg stuff, I did. An act that left my MIL beaming with pride. Although, there still were people, who would ask me with concern writ large on their faces,”Do you at least eat eggs?”
But, times change. And, so do people. And, so did I. I would try out the nonveg fare made at home, once in a while. The ‘while’ being once in 6 months/ a year, depending on my mood. I began losing less of my patience during discussions involving food. Although, there were times, when I couldn’t stand being in the kitchen when the crabs came visiting, or even the dried fish, the aroma of which wafted through the entire house each time it was brought out of its container.
And, today, I like to boast that I can not only eat nonveg, but also prepare it, with élan. Now my SIL beams with pride and rues the fact that her mum (my MIL) isn’t here to see this sea change in her DIL! She may not be around, but I am sure MIL must be looking down from up there and smiling at me, with a twinkle in her eyes!