Urban nirvana

I stand in the ‘Oils’ section in a mall, trying to choose an olive oil that would be best for the kind of food we cook at home. I have a blissful smile on my lips when I realise that I have been deliberating between the four different types of olive oil – blackish, dark green, light green and transparent – offered by a particular brand, just the way Frances Mayes does in Under The Tuscan Sun.

I run my hands through the smooth contours of a big purple brinjal, ensuring that there are no worms. I am already dreaming of the baingan bharta I will devour with hot phulkas and curd.

I roll lemons on my palm to find the ones that are the most juicy and thin-skinned. The smell of fresh lemons sends me into spasms of deliriousness.

I choose the tenderest of French beans and ladies fingers, so that I can make OH his favourite araithuvitta sambar and curry. On a whim, I add a bunch of fresh, fresh, fresh mint to my trolley so that I can make some chutney, too.

The OH puts a bunch of payathangai into the trolley, with a puppy-dog look on his face. I grin, promising to make his favourite payathangai curry in a couple of days’ time.

I pick up four different bunches of coriander before I find the one whose smell is the best and satisfies me completely. It goes into my cart, too.

There are juicy red country tomatoes available for sale, and I pick up a kilo of them to make thokku, though I had no such plan initially.

The OH runs up to me with two corns-on-the-cob, asking me to choose one. I find a couple that hold the promise of freshness and goodness. I will boil them today as soon as I reach home, I think, and we’ll eat them hot, with wedges of lemons and chaat masala.

So, we make up our menus for lunches and dinners for the week ahead, based on what is fresh in the supermarket and what is not. This is how we city dwellers make up for not being able to pick up fresh produce from markets every single day, a la Mayes. This is how we attain urban nirvana out of as mundane a chore as vegetable shopping, in the midst of bustling aisles under the harsh lights of huge malls.

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14 thoughts on “Urban nirvana

  1. LOVED this post TGND. The smell of lemons give me a high too! And that corriander bunch – I do it all the time! And making up the timetable for the week based on what is fresh – nod nod nod.

    I like the market too. Each is an experience on its own. I love walking by the aisles choosing and learnign new things on sale in a mall as much as smelling the freshness and carrying a basket, taking in the goodness of the market.

    Urban nirvana – so so true!

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  2. I always find the veggies to be priced on the higher side in the supermarkets or malls. Also, the harsh lights give me headaches. Weird, I know 🙄

    So its always the sante for me 🙂

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    1. @Visha

      I find the veggie prices at Auchan to be quite reasonable, honestly. I alternate between Auchan and santhes for my veggie shopping.

      You are not the only weird soul. Harsh lights in malls give me headaches too. Too much exposure to them, honestly, not otherwise.

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  3. Hahaha…I loveeee shopping in malls. Though I usually get stuck in the beauty aisle deciding what to buy and what to leave 😛
    You totally sum it by calling it ‘urban nirvana’ 😀

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  4. hahaha! so true…you shop for veggies in a mall is it? RD and I do it at the market…find that fresher than mall…that may be our perception though..like my Amma says we like going through all the dirt and muck at the market and then claim we have fresh veggies every week..eheheheh:)

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    1. @R’s Mom

      We don’t always shop for veggies at malls. We do it either in local markets or from Auchan. I love the market experience, but sometimes, the pleasure of shopping is lost in all the haggling and jostling around in crowds and lugging around big bags. In Auchan, you get fresh vegetables most of the times, and you get the pleasure of leisurely choosing what you want to buy. In markets, the veggie shopping is usually over before you even realise it has begun. 😀

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