Wherefore art thou, fair kitchen?
My mother-in-law (MIL) is a fabulous cook – and nothing makes her happier, I think, than whipping up feasts for her family. I know it sounds like a dream come true for a Housewife to have half her work done for her when MIL’s staying, but it’s actually something I’ve had to get used to.
For, in cooking, my MIL takes over the kitchen. When she arrives from the airport, her business-class luggage allowance bulging not with saris but with fresh avocados, Kenyan mangos, homemade biscuits, vadas , theplas and industrial-size packets of chevro, I have to kiss my surfaces and my cupboards, not to mention my diet and my right to actually BE in the kitchen goodbye, and walk away with my hands in the air.
To fight it would be pointless.
When MIL is in residence, the fridge is stuffed with mysterious bags and packages; the counters laden with boxes and bags; the cupboards packed with ancient Lyons ice cream containers in the depths of which lurk who knows what treats.
All my saucepans bubble and hiss on our six-burner stove; the smell of onion, garlic and spices fills the house. Gerlie’s not allowed out of the kitchen: she’s on a constant roll of washing and wiping.
I’ve never SEEN so much food. For breakfast there’ll be a smorgasbord of Indian snacks served with tea and toast. For lunch, there are 15 delicious dishes whizzing around on the lazy Susan; for dinner there’ll be four different shaks, irio, rotlis, rice, dahl.
“Lay-lé,” she says. Take it, take it, more, eat more, pushing rotlis and dhal bhat (lentil dhal and rice) my way (need I mention that she thinks I’m too thin?).
It used to bug me, this take-over of my space and this insistence on feeding me up. But, somewhere along the way, I realised how lucky I was. Having my MIL in the house is like having access to the best Indian vegetarian restaurant in the world, on 24/7 room service.
Now, when MIL’s flight’s due in, I buy what she needs to cook her favourite dishes, plonk her in the kitchen and wait. Speaking of which… I smell something yummy… yalla… bye!