January 07, 2012

Chasing the memory of a taste...

Foolish, stupid, brash. Sometimes, I am surprised at myself.

An uncle brought ten huge guavas the other day. We ate one and the remaining sat in the basket on the dining table, staring at us and soon their heady smell spread through the dining room into the drawing and the office. I looked at them for 2 busy days and at the end of an exhausting third day, I suddenly decided to make guava jelly!

If you know me well, you would know that I am not the jam-jelly-squash making type of person. But...

It was inspired by the memory of the taste of the guava jelly that my father-in-law used to make in 'big house' many years ago. Every guava season, he would very scientifically make guava jam and jelly. I remember he even used a thermometer while cooking the jelly. So it turned out perfect. He used to bottle the jam and keep the jelly neatly and perfectly cut into squares in a white 'jaali' cupboard. If it had been my parents' home, I would have shamelessly attacked the cupboard, but as a new bride in the house, I had to discreetly help myself to a piece now and then.

I had to make (and eat) guava jelly that evening.

And so I downloaded the recipe (seemed simple enough!) and then began my journey to bring to reality, that taste of the guava jelly from big house. Boil-cut-separate seeds-blend in mixer...before I knew what was happening, I had already used up four large vessels, a strainer and a mixer vessel+lid. Then came the cooking of the mashed guavas. Stir-stir-stir...2 hours whizzed past! I was tired and sleepy. Stir-stir-stir...it was supposed to change colour, but it didn't. I tried to remember the colour of the jelly....must have been green not reddish, as the recipe suggested. Then, as I stir-stir-stirred....watched TV...stir-stir-stirred....watched TV, quite unexpectedly, the guava started boiling, and spewing the jelly out of the vessel...first on the stove, then on the kitchen platform, and some of it even landed on the floor! Alarmed, I brought the ladder, and took out a larger vessel from the attic and poured out the jelly from the small vessel to the large...thus adding one more sticky vessel to be washed.

You get the picture?

Wondering what planetary movement had caused this sudden lapse in sense, I continued stirring the blasted jelly till it left the sides of the vessel, and till my hand ached (as specified in the recipe!). Its aroma permeated my entire house and the neighbouring floors too, and I found my daughter holding her nose as she tried to find a guava-smell-free space in the house. The jelly finally got done by 11.30 pm; it was edible but alas, nowhere close to the taste I cherished. I ended my day washing about 10 vessels, cleaning the stove, the platform and the floor. AND my chappals that had got all sticky and squeaky.

"I will never do this again", I promised myself as my tired head hit my pillow. But I know that in a year or so I will forget the agony of this chase, and the fact that I am not the jam-jelly-squash-making kind of person, and I will once again set out to chase the memory of a taste from long ago.

WHAT'S WITH ME?

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