Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Pardus at Phillipkutty Farm, Kerala, India
The family which owns the island and operates the plantation also has 5 bungalows for guests. As our group will occupy all of the bungalows we are taken into the main house and greeted as family. There is a grandmother – Anniamam; mother – Annu; and two children – Phillip, 10 year old boy; and Annia, 5 year old girl – and a bevy of servants and helpers. The grand mother speaks some English and the mother and children are perfectly fluent. During our orientation we are served cold drinks of lime and ginger before being shown to our rooms. There will be two hours before lunch, during which the others settle in and rest. I have been introduced as a cook and teacher and when I ask if I may watch our meals being prepared I am immediately invited into the kitchen.
The chopping and cleaning is done by her staff, but the final preparation is done by Anniamam (the Grandmother). I am flattered to be asked if I would like to prepare the entire meal with her – actually getting my hands into the food – mixing the meat with the spices and marinade, frying the spices for and doing the cooking of two of the accompanying dishes while she stands at my side and directs me. Over the next three days I will get to work with Anniamam a lot; her daughter-in-law, Annu, helps translate and transcribe most of the recipes. Quantities of spice and portion sizes are pretty much “best guess” status, so I’ll test them with my students as soon as I get back to CIA.