Saturday, January 21, 2017

Food... Glorious Food!!

To have a personal chef is an obvious luxury, but I wonder if those who aren't lucky enough to have one, even temporarily, like I do in Colombo, appreciate how MUCH of a luxury it is, and understand all the things a person doesn't have to do when someone else is employed to cook for you. Velu has been Nilan's cook and housekeeper for years. He stays employed here even when Nilan doesn't live in the country, he's that valuable. He has cooked in embassies and managed large kitchens. His English is fairly rudimentary but I make myself understood by just talking really loudly. I'm kidding. Velu truly enjoys cooking, that's obvious; he can cook western food but why would I possibly eat western food when Velu's rice and curry is top-notch? He makes my breakfast in the morning, brings me coffee or tea, clears up, does the shopping, cooks four or five curries a week -- chopping this and that, crushing spices and fragrant leaves; he measures nothing and makes a huge mess in the kitchen, and when he's done, the kitchen is so clean that there's no indication that anything went on in there. I haven't been in a grocery store in three weeks and I've only occasionally washed a dish. I've learned over the years of visiting that he doesn't want me to bring my plate to the kitchen when I'm finished eating, and that asking for something complicated is fun for him. I usually only want scrambled eggs for breakfast (he makes perfect scrambled eggs) but the other day he told me he was making something "special" for breakfast and whipped up a potato masala, some roti (think Sri Lankan tortillas), and served it to me rolled up like a breakfast burrito. Over the years, this house has been let out to ex-pats who have lived here with their families, and friends have used it as a short-term rental, and Velu comes with the house. He told me that one family of six stayed for a while and that by the time he cleared breakfast, it was time to make lunch; by the time lunch was over, he had to start dinner. He said he was exhausted by the time they left -- but when I'm here, it's like a 'vacation' for him. So there's clearly no reason to take my plate to the kitchen when I'm done eating.