Late last evening I was obsessing so much about cutlets, I could nearly taste them in my mouth. As a rule, i only obsess about food. Infrequently.
Hmmmmm. Ok, maybe frequently.
Like last evening. My food fantasies are painfully brand-specific; like I have sometimes lusted for Qwality's Kuchi Ice; Ratna Cafe's idlies soaked in sambar; Hyderabadi biryani, India Coffee House' fluffy omlettes ...
And last evening the specificity whittled me down to Indian Coffee House' vegetable cutlets. Not any India Coffee House. Just the one at the corner of Burkit Road, T.Nagar, seated just where the road curves into the madness of T.Nagar traffic. This particular food fetish seemed to have come from inside me, from a memory of several years ago. As a child, my father used to bring us these Indian Coffee House cutlets, hot, sweating and soaking the leaf and paper wrapping they came in.
The smell was what got me addicted, then. The fragrance, I mean, of overcooked vegetables wrapped in a crumb-crust fried to a dark brown-purple. And as you see above, there would be an orange-red sauce/ketchup lookalike and slivers of onion sliced up with small rings of green chilly. Suddenly, all this came back in a rush yesterday, memory morphing into a sensory feeling that sent me all the way from Nandambakkam to T.Nagar. It was like the memory led me on and I only remember sitting on one of those greasy chairs of Indian Coffee House, trying to find a non-greasy part of the table to rest my hands on, watching the man at the next table devour a plate of parotas and move quickly onto puris.
And then, there was the cutlet.
Just like from my distant childhood. The smell, the all-so-familiar muffled taste of beetroot and potato in strange purple, the crispness of the crust. Ah! What satisfaction lies in the realisation of a food fantasy!