So far in the visit, we have had lentils and parathas every day for dinner since they have arrived. I love Ajit’s cooking, but this is a little much and now the parents are complaining they are tired with the food, but they do not tell us what else they want to eat. Mom is a strict vegetarian so this drastically limits our options, which is probably why they eat lentils every day. (sigh)
We try to eat out once a week with them, naturally up to this point the only restaurants they will go to are Indian restaurants (another sigh). My boyfriend understands I need variety, different spice palettes, there is so much amazing food in the world, branch out! Why are we only eating Indian?
The answer came one Saturday evening when we took them to our favorite Turkish restaurant in the Fremont area, Café Turko. I absolutely LOVE this place and everything we have tried thus far has been amazing, I highly recommend you check it out. That being said, we took them there. We ordered the hummus and muhammara to start. She is skeptical about the pita (for a woman who makes parathas from scratch EVERY DAY, pita should not be this hard of a concept to understand). She carefully adds the smallest amount of hummus (as if it may poison her), tries it and immediately shakes her head in disgust. The three of us continue to inhale the food, how can you not? It’s so good! I asked her if she doesn’t like hummus at all, or just this one? And this is where I am informed, they’ve never had hummus. They do not know how to make it, what’s in it, etc. So we proceed to explain. Then, probably because I still couldn’t believe it, Ajit tells me how they’ve never eaten pasta / Italian food. WHAT!? Now, I understand that they are conservative, 80 year old Indians, but seriously? How have you never tried it? You order things off Amazon to be delivered to your home in India, you don’t live off the grid! Our conversation continues between Ajit, myself and Dad and out of the corner of my eye I see Mom, fork in hand, eating hummus plain, scooping it on more pita, basically devouring it silently in the corner. So the trick is to ignore her, like a frightened woodland creature, don’t look directly at her and she will eat.
They love ice cream. The first time we took them down the road (thank you Molly Moon), we got Mom’s flavor in a waffle cone and you guessed it, she’d never had a waffle cone before. The woman inhaled this ice cream faster than the little kids outside! Which also explains their love for my Belgium waffles I made a couple days after, never even heard of them before.
Apparently, they have lived a simple life. Mom makes all their food from scratch, including ghee, and Dad loves to eat lentils and parathas every day, so that’s all they do. I am still in shock as the conversation continues and I learn that aside from visiting Ajit here in the states a couple other times, they have never left India. They have never traveled, haven’t seen any other parts of the world, and I realize at that moment why being here and meeting me is such a big, important, and scary task for them.
I have yet to introduce them to cereal… it may push them over the edge. As my boyfriend says, “Slowly, slowly. One thing at a time.”