This is an approximate transcript of a conversation I had with my family in India recently.
Me: So what are you up to these days?
My brother: I give mom food ideas. I find new and interesting recipes online and make her try them out.
Mom: I tried out this recipe for egg paranthas. They turned out really well. You should try it out too. Oh, wait, but you'll have to knead atta for that.
Me: But, mom, I do that all the time. I make decent chapatis. Every day.
(Stunned silence, arising from the fact that I never did anything of the sort while I was in India and she never expected me to try to learn.)
A couple of months earlier, my husband told my mother that I had made aloo paranthas for him. She knew that he was only kidding. But since then, she gets a bit of a shock each time I tell her I tried out something and it turned out well. She finds it all a little difficult to believe. Truth be told, so do I. But I love surprising my husband with all the dishes that he likes. Or with something new and experimental, to which I sometimes add my own touches.
But you know what I miss? I miss the element of surprise in finding out what is on the table for dinner or for lunch. My rajma tastes a lot like my mom's, but it's not the same thing when you know that it's sitting in a bag in one of the cabinets and you can cook it whenever you want. It's entirely different if you come home from work and smell the aroma coming from the kitchen. Some of my friends from the office lunch group would recall how much I enjoyed the fruit custard in the cafeteria. My eyes would light up at the sight of it. It was the only dessert I would always eat. I would hardly eat anything else on the fruit custard days. It's not the same thing when I have custard powder in my kitchen and make it myself every other week.
Planning your meals yourself is good in that you make the things you like, and you make them the way you like them. But it's not the same kind of fun, is it?