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The Aubergine Lesson

Location and laziness combined with ‘Oor kannu’ resulting from me having a good time travelling around the world, conspired against me and forced me to survive on Pizza, Pasta, their cousin brothers and onnu vitta chittappas every time I come to Italy. Usually, tomato does a Kamalagaasan and takes various forms to accompany the pasta. I was sick and tired of tomato, till yesterday happened.

I decided to try out a new restaurant near my hotel. They had a vegetable accompaniment for pasta and it was not tomato. Aubergine is what they called it. I did not know what it was, but I was assured that it was not tomato. So I ordered pasta with aubergine and basil sauce and while waiting for the dish to make its appearance, I ran a flashback in italics.

When it came to leaves and vegetables, I was pretty much a cow. There are tales in my family about how I would pilfer the ‘Tulasi’ (basil) offered as ‘prasadam’ in temples from everyone else. In my ‘iruvathu anju varusha’ (25 years) service as a vegertarian from the southern part of India, I have been exposed to a variety of edible seeds, roots, stems and tubers and have unashamedly devoured most of them. But there is one vegetable I hate. Brinjal. Yes, that devil in dark purple attire, with a star twig attached to its brainless head. Best efforts of mom have failed to make me eat it. My dad almost succeeded once when he made an exemplary ‘Kathirikkaai deep fry’, oozing with ghee, oil and spices. But even he had to accept defeat when I rejected it after the first two pieces. So in a fit of unbound rage mixed with limitless paasam, my mom made a prediction 

“One day you will eat brinjal willingly, my son

And for neglecting our advice, you will feel like a bison”

Inspite of the gargantuan struggles that I have encountered with food while travelling outside India, I have always been thankful that the damn vegetable is not very popular outside the subcontinent. I was ready to live on tomato for months, but cannot eat brinjal for even a day.  

The pasta with aubergine arrived like the Tamizh Cinema Police, after the flashback was over. I cleaned up the plate within minutes. Today I checked what aubergine was. I am a tomato and Mom is God.

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