There is a kind of summer afternoon that is almost magical. The afternoon that is neither too hot nor too cold, pleasantly breezy, and magically mellow. As I sit and type this I hear the gentle swishing of leaves and branches, the lake water lackadaisically lolling against the dock, the kids quietly painting, and Coke Studio in the background. We are up in the Kawarthas for our annual cottage vacation. The first time we came up here my little one wasn’t born yet and now she is the one who is most enthusiastic and will plunge right into the lake on overcast days with an infectious glee.
I recently ran a poll on my Insta Stories where I said cooking for me ranges from feeling like therapy to full on torture and asked where you stood. Most people leant towards therapy, but the bulk of you that messaged me said that it is compulsion that kills it for you. I agree. Wholeheartedly. The difference between I want to and I have to is significant.
For instance, take Yakhni Pulao. I really love it, but there is never a have to attached (I may love it a little more than everyone else lol). So for me cooking Yakhni Pulao with it’s heady aroma is therapy. That said, the traditional way (stovetop) it takes well over an hour just to get the stock ready if you are making it with beef. I am used to slow cooking meat so that in itself does not bother me. However, that’s a solid hour that the aromas I find delightful when I am eating full on move into my couch and rugs and the house smells for days on end. I don’t find that quite so delightful.
Do you remember the 2002 Football World Cup? I do. Brazil played Germany, winning 2-0. Do you know what I remember most?
There is this expression in Urdu, “aapis mein milne se mohabbat barhti hai.” Roughly translated the more you meet someone the more you care about them. I never gave this axiom much thought until we made our second trip to Chicago in 6 weeks. Minutes after getting to my aunts house my little one was sitting on the couch chatting away with a cousins teenage son. When I went up to her she said “excuse me, we are having some us time” and shooed me away.
When we were kids we took a trip to the Northern parts of Pakistan, to Swat and Kaghan with their beautiful peaks and glacial rivers. I would share pictures, but I have some izzat (i.e. self respect).
Those weren’t necessarily my best years.
I don’t remember many details about the trip, but I do remember those delicious bags of chana daal that we would pick up from the nearest restaurant for dinner. When I say bags I am serious. The chana daal or chanay ki daal actually came in clear plastic bags that I would clumsily try to serve myself from, using roti to scoop up what I could, spilling some in the process. It was one of my favourite things about that trip and I really wish that I could recreate that kind of nostalgic magic.