Saturday, February 13, 2016

Texture & Flavour

This is a very old post, from 2011 to be precise, which I am posting now... with slight modifications. 

Lately I'm getting more and more involved in food as a a topic of enquiry. Especially as I have been part of a group developing behavioural weight management program, with additional Mindfulness component to it. Here I learned about 3 main flavours which food companies exploit, or play around with, to get consumers addicted to their products: sweet, salty and fatty.

To think of my life, in a choice starved world of hostel food, I would occasionally have cravings for sugar. But now when I have lot more choices (on the market shelf or in the pocket) I have increased sugar cravings than I ever had in my life. Generally my weakness has been that of melted butter (on top of hot stuffed parathas;).

I was wondering about my increased snacking and read somewhere that some of the Indian spices reduce craving. Truly, on the days I have cooked some Indian food, I had little cravings. This reminded me of the precept of traditional India health system - Ayurveda. According to this system for a balanced diet, we need to have 6 flavors in our food - sweet, salty, sour, bitter, pungent and astringent.

As I try to be more mindful of my food, what I eat and how it feels like... I noticed a lot of sweet stuff in the market are smooth in their texture, a bit too smooth. Today I got some locally made muffins from farmers' market and the texture is so very different. This has the grainy texture, feels like grains but also feels more nourishing. I guess, often real organic products have similar individual personalities... almost like khadi cloth.

Khadi cloth might seem too rough for unaccustomed people, or those with very rich, modern, western sensibilities ... but it always has a good feel for me. Even when I almost always choose cotton, but khadi cotton (which I wore often during my graduation & masters days) has another notch of texture. It also has history, personal memories and cultures associated with it.

The idea of texture was brought out beautifully in the Hindi movie 'Sparsh', where a blind man teaches the nuances of touch and textures to his lover. It would be good if we sometimes for a change we close our eyes and feel ...

PS: Now I also think the craving for sweets is like craving for rewards, and often it also has an underlying longing for sweetness, affection and love in life :P

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