Kitchen shelf. Museum of Folk Arts and Crafts. Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, Mexico
Kitchen shelf. Museum of Folk Arts and Crafts. Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, Mexico | Wikimedia Commons

Maa's meat shelf

How we eat makes us who we are as much as what we eat.

Tanmoy Goswami


Occasionally, I send you bonus pieces in addition to my regular Thursday piece. This week, allow me to share with you a cozy – and ancient*– story on a theme I find myself increasingly consumed by. The connection between food and mood.

* I first drafted this piece 12 years ago for a now-defunct blog. I was reminded of it after my recent essay on food got a lot of love, and drew beautiful, raw reflections from many of you. Here's one comment that moved me to think deeper about what food means to families:

"Food is my family's love language too. It is also a constant source of distraction from family trauma, a ground for ego battles (do the kids eat more when dad cooks?), a reminder of privilege and much more." – Sadia Rao

I hope you like today's little piece. I am smiling as I send it to you, it's like I've just discovered a long-forgotten 100 rupee note under the mattress. Enjoy, and do write in with your delicious reveries.

Home was maa’s meat shelf. Milk powder, tea leaves, sugar, and biscuits on top; moog, mushoor, and chhola in the middle; baking powder and custard mix at the bottom, all in see-through Horlicks and Dalda jars.

Maa had a way of arranging everything in the order of immediacy. Somehow, in maa’s hands, complete misfits lived transparently and in happy harmony. Maa also knew a magic trick that converted a ‘meat shelf’ into a halfway house for everything but meat.

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