The Kamarkat Elegy
If you salivate at the thought of that rather self-effacing stick of caramellised jaggery and sugar and just a hint of coconut, then, Friends, South Indians and Country people, lend me your senses.
The Kamarkat (ka-mar-cut and NOT to be pronounced like meer-kat), to my mind, cannot be defined for someone who has no clue. But this is for my fellow-kamarkat lovers...
The professional ones that we got at the school tuck shop were dark brown, wrapped in a transparent plastic paper so you could pick and choose the darkest,vilest brown turning to black. You could tell these were the tastiest and would last longest. And those were the days when you could produce a princely rupee and walk away with enough kamarkat to feed a kingdom.
I remember we had to time the purchase well. Because, the kamarkat would last a really long while and you simply could not get caught with a sweet in your mouth in class. So preparations would be to finish lunch in a jiffy, skip over to the tuck shop and buy an armfull of kamarkat and run before the nun vending it can ask you 'what-are-you-going-to-do-with-so-many-sweets-that-can-spoil-your-teeth-and- give-you-four-kinds-of-stomach-worms?!'. You don't want to be answering those kind of questions, do you?
Anyways, this is not so much about the nun as it is about sinking your teeth into that gooey 'goli', and letting the slow effusion of sweet-yet-a-little-bitter jaggery take over. It kind of lets the juice out like a drug eluting heart stent. Image in bad taste (!) but truly, there is no perfect-er metaphor: it's like the kamarkat knows exactly when to release the juices, just like the stent lets out the drug to keep your artery unblocked!
The best treat was to be able to suck on it forever and a little more and then push around a few slivers of coconut in your mouth,when forever ended and so did the kamarkat. Ah! The pleasure of that!
But then, the kamarkat died. After a while, they simply stopped making it anymore.
:( Which is when you tried to make do with the 'poornam' used to make the sweet kozhukattai, but no siree, we're just not there at all! :( It's not as rock solid as the 'pro' ones we could buy off the push carts, 'Naadar kadais' or oddly, convent tuck shops. Nay.
O, and did I add? If you have not had the pleasure of sinking your teeth into that gooey piece of heaven, walk away please, your tail between your legs...
P.S. And now, when the only sliver of the kamarkat I have left is a memory wedged in the deepest recesses of my brain, someone peeps over my shoulder at blogger and says Kamarcut is still available in Vysarpadi! I just turn back and say, "Buy me some!"