Pic from http://www.horton-szar.net/clipart/food.php
It’s probably been a while since the trend started but I encountered it for the first time – a live pesarattu counter at a wedding breakfast, and the ginger chutney served along with it was the yellow-green variety and not the familiar red variety that I know. I don’t attend too many weddings and even less in other cities so it’s interesting to see what the caterers come up with each time. Of course, that depends on the faith(s) the bride and groom practice (or don’t) but most wedding feasts I attend tend to be vegetarian (many non-vegetarian communities too serve strictly vegetarian meals when it involves rituals) so we’re set for veggie talk.
As a kid and teenager, my impression was that wedding meals were usually ho-hum – the mandatory muddapappu, pappucharu, a palav, maybe, a few chips, one or two vegetables (potatoes and peas, perhaps, and brinjal/eggplant in some form), curds/yoghurt, a pinch of salt in the corner of your plate, a bit of chutney, a spoonful of pickle, a banana, jalebi and mysore paak (the hard variety, not the ghee-saturated one that goes by the name of mysurpa now), paan and ice-cream, for that really special touch. Now you get all this and more. So even if you’re served only a spoonful of each vegetable, you don’t really need to ask for second helpings to feel full – only if you want to revel in the good taste once more. And again!
Even at a sit-down, served meal, you get at least three sweets from beginning to end not counting the ice-cream, and one of them could be the semiya payasam. An all-time favourite, I don’t ever remember coming across it growing up. I never thought about it then but looking back, I wonder why? Preparing it in large quantities was too complicated? Well, I’m glad to say this wedding served it in cute little tubs, and it was divine. At an associated lunch, we were also served a cutlet that would have been routine if not for the addition of melon seeds – nice twist!
Exclusively wedding fare?
And some dishes, I’ve ever seen them only at weddings and associated events – vankaya pakodi (eggplant with pakodas), vankaya/dondakaya with fried peanuts, a sour-and-spicy gravy that contains paneer (cottage cheese) or lotus seed, palav with fried bread cubes (to approximate the taste/texture of meat?) and once in a while, strange combinations of vegetables that I’d like to remember and recreate at home but always slip my mind. It’s not that the others I’ve mentioned can’t be made at home, they can, but somehow, neither mine nor my friends or relatives seem to make those dishes.
A glutton is made
What I do hate about wedding meals, though, is how the video man and the photographer zealously come to catch you at that most awkward moment when you are busy shoveling these glorious morsels into your mouth, casting you in a rather gluttonous mode in the memoirs of that family for posterity. For many years now, I make sure I don’t have my hand anywhere near my mouth when this team comes along with its long, snaking cables and interfering flash bulbs – I fiddle with the leaf/plate that my food is served in, move my food away from me to a corner, as if it’s too much for me, keep my head resolutely down, or stonily stare the camera team away into slinking off to the next batch of feasters.
Give it a thought
First, the qualifier: I’m writing about wedding meals only because this is a food blog and I don’t have a recipe ready – it’s not like it’s the main takeout for me from a wedding, so I’ll take the opportunity to preach a bit – I dislike the way guests criticize the hosts for a meal that was not up to their expectations in taste and range. Sure, the feast is something to look forward to, but don’t we attend weddings to honour the invitation, to wish the couple a good life? Why is it that so many of us go on discussing and gossiping about the food, how bad it was, and how miserly the hosts were just because some curry didn’t have enough ghee or cream in it or because there were just two sweets instead of three? Are we so badly off that we can’t afford to make/buy those things ourselves that we should feel so let down? All of us love free lunches, but shouldn’t we end our disappointment with a measured observation, if at all, rather than mean comment?