Bees saal baad – shopping then and now

A few months back, I was helping my mother clear out her loft, and I came across her 20 year old Diary. It was more like a record of household expenses, with a few recipes pencilled in along the margins. I was glancing at some of the entries when… hey, hey, hey what’s with the fascination for raw mangoes? She bought 5 kilos of them on June 5… and she had already had her kids by then! I made a quick call to Mama to solve this mystery.

Anticlimax! It was just the pickle season! Mama and her sister-in-law used to get together every summer to make pickles for the whole year. They would buy spices, roast and grind them, and spend an entire afternoon making jars of the delicious condiment.

Dairy_1How life has changed! Today, all I do is stroll into a supermarket to pick up a jar. I told my mother that, and she pointed out that for the price of a medium-sized jar, she would have enough pickle for the whole year! Oh well, inflation and all that, plus of course, the need to grab a few extra winks on weekends 😉

But I decided it might be fun to keep my own notebook, just for a while, and compare it with mom’s… just to find out how much life has changed, and to give my kids something to compare when they grow up!

June 25, 2013
Two weeks of note-keeping and I already entries ranging from atta to dosa batter to pasta sauce to farsan and of course bread. Mom’s page is filling up at a gentler pace, with entries like urad dal, besan, wheat, ajwain and salt. Then it occurs to me that we both wanted the same things! The only difference is that I have bought the ready product, whereas Mom bought the raw material, which she would then soak, grind, mix or cook to make the yummy finished product.

Dairy_2I wonder if Mom’s generation would still have taken all this trouble, had they had convenient options available. Seeing my mother at work even now, I suspect the convenience marketers would have gone out of business.

July 3, 2013
It’s funny, but for someone who is always singing praises of ghee and butter, there isn’t a single mention of the sinful stuff in the notebook. Called my mother to tease her about it, and she immediately admitted that she never used to buy ghee or butter – she made both every week, right at home! “Your kids don’t know the joys of pure butter, because your pricey slim milk doesn’t have the power to make good homemade butter or ghee” she sniffed.

Advantage Mama. It’s ironic, that today, we spend extra to buy milk which has the fat removed, and then spend again to buy back the fat in the form of butter and ghee.  And if that weren’t enough, we wonder if we are eating too much of processed food! The price we pay for convenience. Sigh!

July 30, 2013
My birthday is round the corner! The hubby has decided to treat me to a weekend at an ayurvedic spa. Sneaked a peek at Mom’s notebook to find out how she had shopped for my b’day…

Dairy_3Rs. 50 for sweets for school… wow, that’s it? That too for my class of 45 kids! Today, you can’t get a big bar of chocolate for that kind of dough.

August 2, 2013
A few friends are coming over to celebrate my birthday before we leave for the spa tomorrow. I bought lots of blueberry ice cream and dark chocolate for the party – for the anti-oxidants of course 😉

My mother’s notebook mentions flour, potatoes, spices and sugar. Hmmmph, like any other day! But wait, I can see an elaborate recipe for a cake scrawled on the side of the page; it must have come from my aunt who had lived in the US.

Now I remember! My mother had gone across to the aunt’s home with the ingredients, for personal supervision and use of her oven! I also remember what a hit the cake had been at the party. We had polished it off along with samosas (kept warm in a casserole, remember, these were the days before a phenomenon called the microwave) and chips, washed down with tiny sips of cola. There was no party theme, no magicians or people dressed up as cartoon characters, no jumping jacks and no return gifts, but it was  the most unforgettable party ever! Wondering if we’re missing something these days…

October 18, 2013
We’re thinking of changing our fridge this Diwali. So many choices, so little time! Freezer at the bottom or at the top, two doors or three, ice cube dispenser or not. My mother’s notebook has no entry on refrigerators… after all, she belonged to a generation that believed a fridge had to last at least as long as a marriage, and in those days, that meant at least a lifetime if not seven. No wonder the appliance had pride of place –  right up there with photographs of children and of weddings in the family. And as far as choice went, you could buy any colour, as long as it was white!

December 7, 2013
The Dussehra Diwali season is behind us, and all we want to do was to chill out at home. By common consensus, the menu of choice was something we hadn’t had in a while. Yes, everyone had voted for dal chawal, even the kids (that’s quite something I can tell you, for children who want fast food takeaways on speed dial). But just this once, there was no raiding the shops for exotic pestos or spices. Everything we needed was right there at hand.

Dairy_4And sitting at the table with my family, I feel like I have gone back 20 years. We’re eating homemade comfort food – just like when I was a kid. I know that on Monday, we’ll be weaving our way around pre-ground, pre-soaked, pre-mixed convenience foods, but right now, it’s time to enjoy the comforting blast from the past.

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