Two ice cream sandwiches, one banana ice cream bar (lovingly and locally called Banana Lolly) and a slice of super-indulgent double chocolate praline cake. Make that two slices.
It’s 3.20pm in the afternoon and that’s my dessert count so far. It may just be 38-degrees outside, but under the 20-degree air-conditioner chill, even my excuses seem to have their mouths frozen shut.
I feel the need…the need for high intensity cardio and weight training.
The funny (pathetic, if you want to be specific) part is that I’m not even a dessert person. I’m a memory eater. I eat because it reminds me of a time, a place or a person. And being back home with my family has brought back a lot of memories. Very, very tasty memories.
Sandwich ice cream from the ice cream cart outside school for a few coins. 2 soft chocolate biscuits tenderly holding together a cake of creamy vanilla ice cream. It would crumble and drip down my fingers and uniform before I got home, doing just what it was meant to do.
Banana ice cream on weekends after a big lunch. Mum, Dad, sister and me, huddled close together on the couch in front of the TV, slurping on the magical taste of togetherness.
(I have no personal bond with the cake I destroyed other than a carnal need to consume that rich, gooey chocolate. So I’m getting another slice. Don’t even.)
Then there’s mum’s dals, chicken curries, creamy chicken pies, pizzas, Kheema (mince meat curry) and many other dishes intrinsically linked to my happiness. Food that mama and I ate together after I got back from school while I filled her up on all the news, snacks that I scoffed down before rushing out the door in the evenings or weekend staples that always tasted the same and never disappointed.
Like mama’s grilled chicken. Every Friday morning (Weekends in the Mideast are on Friday/ Saturday), we had to clean our room plus an additional chore. Then we were free to go out and play. Growing up in an apartment meant no backyards or corner parks. There were buildings all around us with scorching hot concrete under our feet and blazing hot sun above our heads. Glorious. We played ball, we played house, we pretended to be detectives and thieves. We sweated and laughed and cried.
When I’d run past kitchen windows, my senses would be cushioned with the plethora of scents from different homes. Indian, Asian, Arabic, Continental. Love, affection, happiness and care.
It was time to surrender to the fragrance that was taking over our home.
That’s the thing about food. I savour that memory for time spent with my parents, cousins and friends, but I know that it was Mama’s Friday grilled chicken that holds it all together in my heart.
This was originally meant to be a post about hitting the gym. I think it’s pretty clear how well I’m doing with that.