I do, though. I like things that crunch. I like Indian food: poppadoms and pickles – it’s a classic. Though, thinking about it, I don’t remember ever eating poppadoms when I was actually in India. I remember thalis, I remember a fantastic chicken curry in New Delhi, I remember masala dosa in the south. Masala dosa is one of my favourite foods ever. Maybe I’ll come back to that.
Anyhow, poppadoms. For a start, poppadom is a great word to say. How can you not want to order at least 10 of those? And then they shatter so nicely, and the whole pickle thing is great – sweet and sour and hot, and then the onion-y thing. So many meals.
My big poppadom memory, though, isn’t a meal. It’s sitting in Jane’s kitchen in her little house in Bradford. I can’t remember quite how she cooked them. I know she didn’t fry them – maybe she grilled them – so they weren’t as puffy as you’d get in a restaurant. And she didn’t have the full range of chutneys and pickles – and certainly not the chopped onion thing. I’m pretty sure we just dipped them in mango chutney, nibbling and chatting. That was years ago, but the last time I saw Jane, we sat in her (bigger, fancier) kitchen, drinking tea out of beautiful mugs, nibbling on poppadoms and chutney – and we chatted.
We ate lots of Indian food in Bradford. Pakistani food, strictly speaking, but in England we refer to it all pretty generically – not distinguishing between India, Pakistan, Bangladesh – and eating an Anglicised version of it all. We ate in fancy schmancy restaurants that served elegantly spiced dishes, and we ate in caffs with wipe down formica topped tables and lino on the floor. And we always had poppadoms – crunchy, zingy, more-ish.
We drifted away from them in Bristol. We moved on to thalis in tiffin tins (oh, I love a tiffin tin!). And now we’re in Devon we only eat curries when we make them ourselves (so – a home-made version of an Anglicised range of dishes – probably so far removed from what’s traditionally eaten it can barely claim the name), or when we party with our Leicester friends, who turn up with buckets of curries and boxes of bhajis and samosas. And, of course, we haven’t had a party for a long time, thanks to Covid.
So, this is food that I eat with friends. It’s food that evokes laughter and music and chatting. Lots of chatting – that hum of conversation that hasn’t been around for a while. Conversation that’s sweet, and sour, and spicy, and more-ish.