Friday, February 19, 2016

Anna's Junk Food Journeys

Photos courtesy

All thru my childhood, I remember that we were actively discouraged from eating junk food by our parents. Chips, soda, ice cream, chaat, and later burgers were pretty much banned. They were what we called "controlled substances" - my mother controlled what, when and how much we could eat.

Now I suddenly find the Anna is relishing and actively seeking out junk food! The contrast is striking.  To give you a better idea, here are the Then and Now situations. 

Ice Cream vs Yoghurt
Ice Cream Then: Till we were teenagers,  ice cream was bought only 6 times a year - on one of our birthdays. The big decision that had to be made by the birthday boy or girl was the flavour of ice cream.  That too at a time when there were only 3 flavours available - Vanilla, Chocolate, and Strawberry!

Ice Cream Now: It is ironical that now Anna recognizes the corner of the street to his flat, by the presence of an ice cream cart. And even more ironical, is that when we pass the cart, I tell him, "Anna, you can't have ice cream now. Not till it is much warmer." And in summer I am rationing his ice cream consumption to a few days a week. He gets fruit yoghurt as a substitute on non-ice-cream days.

Photo courtesy
Chaat Then: "That dangerous food," according to Anna. What did he not like about chaat?  Well just about everything. The papdi / tikki was "definitely fried in kerosene oil" as were samosas, bread and vegetable pakodas. The imli chutney was affectionately referred to as "sulfuric acid". If we said we wanted to eat chaat we were told by Anna, "OK. But there is jaundice / typhoid / cholera / diarrhoea going around. You can eat chaat if you want to." The disease varied with the season or what was in the news. And so we rarely choose to catch a dreaded disease.

Chaat Now: A few months ago, we made papri chaat at home and sent some for Anna. With all the chutneys. So imagine my surprise, when 15 mins later, Anna's cook came running to my flat saying that Anna wants "More". Really!? Now Anna eats aloo tikki, asks for pakodas and wants samosas when we go out. Sadly all these things are too chilly hot for him, but he keeps wanting "More" (like Oliver Twist!).

Campa Cola Ads
Soda Then: "Drink water," we were told when we said we wanted to drink a soda. Campa Cola, Double 7, Thumbs Up rarely graced our homes. "Cool drink," as my mother called it, consisted of sweet lime juice.

Soda Now: Now Anna drinks Sprite every day. It started as a solution to Anna's consistent nausea (something that I understand, happens due to the strong medication he takes). I tried lemon water, Amritdhara, eating a dry wafer. But nothing worked till I tried Sprite. Now, nausea or not, Anna wants to have Sprite. Not Seven Up. Not Mirinda Lemon or Orange. Not Coke or Pepsi. Only Sprite. And that is what he gets. 200 - 250ml a day.

Wimpy's Veggie Burger Meal
Burgers Then: What? Burgers? Growing up, there were no fast food places that sold burgers. And when they opened, we would have to save our pocket money to buy and eat a burger, for Anna and Amma wouldn't buy us burgers.

Burgers Now: On one of our Weekend Expeditions, when Sanjiv asked Anna if he would eat a Wimpy's veggie burger, Anna said "Yes" without a moments hesitation. He finished a Veggie Burger at 11:30am in the morning and declared, "This is the BEST burger in the world! They would make a fortune if they sold this in the US."

Chips Then: Another no-no in our house. On a rare occasion, if we insisted and Amma was in a good mood, we would get French fries. But that was rare.

Chips Now: On one of the days I took Anna to our local Reliance Fresh, he spotted Chips and asked me to buy some. "What flavour do you want Anna?" I asked. After some thought, he settled on Sour Cream and Onion. And he is hooked. Banana chips are sometimes passed over for Sour Cream and Onion Lays.

Anna's junk food journey hasn't ended......

Now he wants to go to a restaurant to have waffles with maple syrup, cream, strawberries (I am still looking for a place to take him).

He wants to have pizza. Not homemade! But made at a restaurant. And washed down with ginger ale or Sprite.

For a man who is unwell, his taste buds seem to be doing very well.

It may seem like this is a lot of junk food for a super senior citizen to eat. And in addition to the muffins, jaangiri, ladoo, etc. that he has anyway. But surely at 87, with no heart disease or diabetes, Anna should be allowed to eat and drink junk food to his hearts delight!

I am just the enabler!

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