21 April 2013

India: Do Not Do

Welcome to India. The land of milk and honey. Oops! I meant Assault and Abuse. Oops! I meant Rape and Paedophilia. What, you thought the Catholic Church had dibs on that? When people think of India nowadays, they think poverty, technology, economic development, pollution, tourism, pageant winners, call centres, outsourcing, Bollywood and Salman Rushdie. 

I want you to stop. I want you to start thinking of India as AA. Not Alcoholics Anonymous. Assault and Abuse. If you truly want to understand the sickness that is India, first stop romanticising it. Yes, the bloody Taj Mahal is going to be there forever. It no longer represents modern India. It's a laughable glimpse into a  colonial and bloody past. The present is much more terrifying. 

The present is so horrific, you will literally want to lock up your daughters and sons and never let them out onto the streets of India. The media will throw a million statistics at you. 336% increase in rapes since 2010. One out of five cops involved in cover-ups. India: The Rape Capital of the World. Endless numbers. Endless tales of woe. There is only so much you can read and watch before you either do something about it or die from the overdose, turn it off and walk away. 

Do Not tell me, India has good people too. So what? Not all Nazis were bloodsucking murderers. Not all Israeli Jews are arrogant killing machines. Not all Saudis are terrorists. If those mind-numbingly idiotic and underwhelming persuasions work with you, get the fuck off of this page. India is a bad country now. It's a country which has lost all sense of decency, humanity, compassion, logic, honesty and courage. 

Do Not visit. The tourism isn't worth the damage you may incur. It isn't worth the hell you'll go through if you get caught in its web, where you'll be slowly devoured, as your intestines are literally ripped out before your very eyes. Do Not tell your children about it. You'll never be able to protect them here. They will be raped, brutalised, bled to death, tortured beyond comprehension. It'll make Katherine Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty look like Winnie the Pooh had a small accident. 

I no longer belong to India. And India no longer belongs to me. I reject this monster. This golem. This horrific bogeyman who is eating the children alive. I no longer want to hear that there are people trying to change things. Those people are raped, tortured and killed too. I no longer want to hear that instead of complaining I should do something about saving it. I have. I refuse to give birth. The only way to clean India is to stop India. Literally stop it in its tracks. I'm not an advocate of ethnic cleansing. I am an advocate of cleaning the dirt. Find the rotting seed and crush it. 

I am ashamed of India.
Put India on your DO NOT DO list.

And yes, there is such a thing as evil.

04 April 2013

The Way To A Woman's Brain

Yes, go on. It is. Through her stomach. When we love what we eat, when food delights us, especially when it's cooked by a man, our brain sits up and takes notice. The heart is a mere follower. 

Last night I was invited to dinner to an old mate's lovely home. The entire family is a single unit of insane friendship and Dionysian overtones. There's Papa Bear, Mama Bear, Baby Bear Senior and Baby Bear Junior. Generally, between the Bombay Sapphire and the constant service of delicious home made snacks, I don't pay attention to what's on my plate, so intense are our conversations and so law-breakingly loud is our hilarity. 

But last night, something happened. The food took precedence over the conversation and the friendship. The food. Those who know me well, also know that I know food enough, to not treat my tongue like part of a sandwich. So imagine my surprise when I absently dipped my toasted cracker into a smooth, heavy, lissome yogurt dip, almost the consistency of cream cheese, delightfully speckled with dill and lemon zest and with that first taste, froze in the middle of my sentence. Papa Bear thought I needed more gin. Mama Bear looked confused. Baby Bear Junior gulped audibly. I had stopped talking. Now, those of you who know me well also know I cannot shut up when I am having a good time. I tell you people, I shut the hell up. It was delicate, exquisite and danced on my tongue. 

Next, Mama Bear's salad with unoffending goat's cheese and crisp fresh, ever-so-slightly and mercifully under-dressed greens, prepared my palate for the goodness that was about to follow Then came the deceptively simple meal. The kind that lures you in with the simple memory of childhood, aka shepherd's pie. The second dish assaults you with the sexual overtones of your first exotic holiday in Sicily. When the chicken parmigiana competed with your senses and the young Italian boy was struggling to hold his own.

Shepherd's pie or cottage pie as it was known in the 1800s  is a simple formula, so it's astonishing how many people get it wrong by trying to make it 'tastier.' That's like trying to make your child look cuter. Just leave the original recipe to melt your heart. I can still taste the soothing layer of meat and potato, when all was right with the world and all I ever had to worry about was, what would the tooth fairy bring me. Ah, simplicity. Ah Shepherd's Pie.

Marinara is not actually my favourite sauce but this chicken parmigiana was so moist, tender and evenly coated, the sauce became a vessel of delightful flavours and upheld the layer of cheese with great bravado. I became a marinara convert at that dinner table. And I don't convert easily. I'm an atheist. 

With the end of the meal, the memory cells began to sing their own songs. Telling me this was better, 2009 at Mama Spitzi's was better, my ex-boyfriend's Italian sister-in-law's was better, Baby Bear Junior's was better and the voices followed me home. This morning when I woke up, I quickly asked myself a question. How was dinner last night? Quick answer. The food was fantastic. 

Enough said. Baby Bear Junior, you have a gift. It's also a curse. I'll be fat and hate you. You'll be fat and hate yourself. And the tastes of my childhood and my holidays will be refreshed with a pinch of salt and sweetened with ripe lemon zest. 

Mille grazie Ricci.