After a two hour visit and exploring the Janapada Loka museum, Savita offered to cook us lunch while we chatted about the museum at her residence. Since we had always had such wonderful food experiences with BuDa folklore, we bet her standards were high and we were absolutely right. She was such a phenomenal cook—the type who spices by hand, the type who manages three pots on the stove and moves around chopping vegetables, and the type who put up an amazing meal in less than 30 minutes.
My thoughts trailed off and I remembered the cooking of my mother and of my grandmother. Growing up in Vietnam, I was always called to the kitchen to observe and to learn how to cook. The thing is when you grew up with two amazing but particular cooks in the house, all you do is just observe and eat because my foods were never good enough for them.
Suddenly, a ding on my phone brought me back to Bangalore. ‘I got the fish’, Tristan whatsapped us while we were waiting patiently. Once Savita grabbed the fish from Tristan, she quickly sprang into action. She first ran water through them and then dried them up in a small basket. After 5 minutes, she gave the homemade fish spices a good stir before applying them evenly onto the fishes. As the aroma started filling the room, all four of us ran to the kitchen area to examine the smell and, well, the fishes.
I have had many home-made foods while in India, but nothing tasted quite the same as these home-cooked, fresh-out-of-the-stove dishes. Maybe I was nostalgic about the time I learnt cooking from my grandmother and my mother. Maybe I was just a little homesick and the hospitality of Savita made me feel at home. Maybe the fish was exceptionally good as it was prepared with love for us. Maybe it was the company of Savita and my team. Maybe it was all of that as I looked down at my plates, smiled at the fish and enjoyed my lunch. Nom nom nom!