Rule Ten: Learn to respect and co-exist with her cookery skills
Assume you are a Cordon Bleu chef, and assume- at your peril- your wife is not. She cooks, as is often the case in Indian families; wives cook, Cordon Bleu or not. She cooks a repast of roti and sabzi. As you have settled down with your first bite, the wife pops the important question: “How is the food today?”
You are choking over the heavy dosing of red chilli, methi powder and dhaniya powder in the sabzi, you are chewing the leathery roti enough for it to be swallowed discreetly. You are sipping water, not because you are thirsty, but for a very practical reason. You want to force the roti down your gullet. And the water serves as a great lubricant besides cooling down the fiery sensation in your throat.
When confronted with that monumental question, take a deep breath. Real deep! Think of the cool waterfall, the dancing lilies in the pond, Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas, your childhood memories of ice-lollies, etc. Think of all such soothing stuff you have ever had in your life while you try to formulate an answer. You may consider some of the following:
This will not cut any ice, so be prepared for the next question:
“How is the roti? This is the new pack of XYZ brand atta I bought.”
You may easily dodge this by diverting the discussion to increasing food prices and how the MNC’s are conning the gullible Indian customer with some fancy packaging and fancier advertising. But conclude your tirade by confessing that she has wrought magic with the atta and converted it into some sublimest rotis ever consumed by humankind.
She will probably be OK with the answer, in any case in her eyes the roti is not exactly her output and the atta manufacturer holds an equal responsibility for it.
And then she would pop the next question:
“How is the sabzi?”
You want to yell to her that her sabzi is the most awful stuff you have ever eaten, and you pray to God that the Almighty plans for you a trip away from the city so that you can avoid any more of your wife’s sabzis. Or, if He does not intervene, you are OK with eating at home some plain chawal, daal and anchaar. But, God, please spare me her roti and sabzis! Anything but her sabzi, and roti!!
A single word advice: REFRAIN. Refrain from any candid remark. Just refrain.
You may want to consider this alternative:
You think this will satisfy her probing mind? Perish the thought, she is bound to come back with another question. Which will now be more probing in nature.
Try the next move:
“I think your selection of sabzi is wonderful, I never had so many varieties of gourds- and their cousins- ever”. You are of couse referring to kaddu, lauki, nenua, jheenga or karela etc. “So very healthy”, you say, “So nutritious. You are just so wonderful for choosing the appropriate sabzis for all of us, your family”.
Some inexperienced wives may preen at this sabzi-selection certificate. Most will not.
Now this is a tricky one.
“But I thought you did not like these sabzis from the gourd family. Be honest now.”
This is the time to look helpless, and look like she has “caught” you for your untruthfulness. And you must confess as much.
“True, you know very well that I do not like these sabzis. But you know what! You have sautéed the stuff so well, “Kya chhaunk pada hai”! What a brilliant mix of spices: “Methi powder bilkul sahi hai issme”. Or “Waah, kya andaaz hai namak ka”.
By which time the wife should be pretty satisfied. And by which time you have managed to negotiate your way through the roti and the sabzi. Or better still, she eagerly lunges for the fridge to pull out her creamy kheer which she has denied you these few years. (“Think of the cholesterol, and the sugar at your age….”)
You should of course thank her for the measured “sugary-ness” and “creamy-ness” of the kheer. Or else there will be no kheer henceforth!
Some adventurous types would have another take on the wife’s cooking. They say explicitly that they are bored.
In my youth I used to be one of the few who rebelled against her routine cooking of “health” food. Till she remonstrated, “What now should I cook for you!!”
Her reamrk was meant to end in an exclamation mark rather than a question mark. But I confused it for the latter. And took up her “query” rather literally, actually offering to help her with her menu! I volunteered to prepare a weekly menu which I politely offered to tape it on the kitchen fridge.
Needless to say, I went without food for the next few days.
Ok, I am exaggerating, I did get served food, but I’d rather I did not.
Take care. Bye!