Meeting in the Middle (at the table)


“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.”
-James Beard

Part of being in a marriage wrought with differences is the continual hunt for similarites. Luckily, Varun and I share some pretty important similarities: we both dislike seafood, are always on time and have very few preferences regarding household organization or scheduling. We also share a mutual appreciation for wine. And beer. (Like all good marriage, ours is built on our shared passions).

This evening, we revisited our favorite common ground: food. My friend Aimie and I had planned for weeks our culinary date: Aimie and Amelia cook and watch Julie and Julia. (I know, it’s incredibly clever and yes, her name’s actually Aimie). On the menu was chicken biriyani, salad and killer cake. Just so my Italian side wouldn’t feel left out, I made tomato sauce on the side for tomorrow’s homemade calzones.

The evening was not, of course, without incident or entertainment. The smoke decetor did go off when the bay leaves got slightly browned, but that was solved by Aimie waving the Julie and Julia DVD in front of it. Does having an Asian friend who’s taller than me make me short? I’m not sure, but it was helpful for silencing the smoke decetor. Varun managed to walk in the door as the biriyani finished cooking and added his two cents about what it’s meant to look like (“Hmm, it’s not usually so…moist”).

Once we sat down, we asked Aimie if she minded if Varun and I ate with our hands. She was excited and eager, or perhaps a very friendly and obliging guest, and asked to be taught as well. With no small bit of pride, Varun said of course he would teach her, “Even God teaches babies to eat with their hands.” Apparently, the biriyani was a hit and was all but devoured.

Growing up, Killer Cake  was a legend in my home. Guests were often shocked by the density and richness of it, their pancreases racing to deal with the massive sugar intake. True to form, none of us could finish our pieces, despite refills on milk and an entire 122 minute movie on cooking. (To this day my mother wants the name changed from “Killer Cake” to something lovely like “Yummy Chocolate Cake”. Descriptive, but not as terrifying.)

All told, culturally and gastronomically it was a very succesful evening; despite our differences we enjoyed that blessing which is beloved by all cultures: a delicious meal. Represented (in the flesh and culinarily) were America, Italy, India and China. And all were sated and satisfied. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Killer Cake sustains Varun as he calculates and makes an engine

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