Thursday, May 23, 2024
HomeEducation / CultureFood for thought

Food for thought

By Tony Deyal

What came first? The chicken or the eggs? Earlier this week, having got up at about 04:00 am, I decided to cook one of the favourite dishes of my wife, Indranie. I fried four eggs in onion, garlic and chive with a little hot pepper. It is what I consider a wok on the wild side. Then knowing my daughter Jasmine, who loves chicken, would be home after a week of work, I put pieces of boneless chicken breast on the non-stick griddle (a flat Indian “tawa”) and when both sides were grilled as completely as one of Trump’s followers in the January 6 hearings, I put them in fried onion, garlic and chive. So, it was neither the chicken nor the eggs that were first. It was the seasoning. Without it, the whole world will grind to a halt.

Ecclesiastes told us in the bible that “for everything, there is a season”, but a seasoning? He did say “and a thyme for every purpose under heaven.” However, despite the mis-spelling, this is very sage advice, especially if you’re translating the Bible from the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek to Latin and then English. There is a story about a group of monks who were responsible for hand-making new copies of the bible. Every day, almost as soon as they woke up, everybody started work. One of the monks, Brother Gray, having completed his first thousand copies after twenty years of hard work, asked the abbot if he could go and make his next copy from the original that was safely locked away in the vault.

The Abbot, knowing Brother Gray’s commitment, agreed. Days passed and Brother Gray did not return. Worried, the Abbot decided to go and check on him. As he got closer, the Abbot heard very loud sobbing and crying coming from the vault. He hurriedly pushed open the heavy metal gate and found Brother Gray rolling around on the ground with pages of the bible scattered everywhere. The worried Abbot asked him, “Brother, whatever is the matter? We’ve been so worried about you. What’s wrong?” Brother Gray pushed himself upright, wiped away the tears from his eyes and grabbing the abbot by the collar, cried, “The word was ‘Celebrate’ not ‘Celibate’.” Of course, the Nuns didn’t believe him because they find it hard to get out of the habit, and priests only celebrate on their birthdays.

This was not the only Biblical misinterpretation. One youngster told his Mom when she picked him up after Bible class, “It says that the Lord thy God is one, but I think He has to be a lot older than that.” Another said: “Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating one bad apple, so they were driven from the Garden of Eden. But I’m not sure what they were driven in though, because they didn’t have cars in those days.” That was easily rectified by his father who replied, “Son. I think he drove a Plymouth Gran Fury. Some people said he was thinking of punishing Adam and Eve for falling to the Devil’s low Dodge, but as the bible says, the Lord drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden in a Fury. However, when they stopped making that brand, HE had to settle for a 2021 Genesis while his opponent switched to a Lamborghini Diablo.”

All this came about from my communication with my son, Zubin. Whenever I returned from trips around the Caribbean, while Indranie stayed with Jasmine until “she” fell asleep (generally Indranie was both the chicken and the egg in that contest), I was with Zubin. We talked about everything, but mostly cricket, and I answered all his questions and shared jokes with him, especially puns.

For the past few years, except for a long COVID break, he has been at Oxford and we connect on WhatsApp almost every night. In the past week of so he was in Greece and is now in Turkey. So, guess what? It’s worse than the boarding house fire. Then only the roomers were flying. Now, with a seven-hour time difference and thousands of miles away, the cooking puns are frying while Zubin is flying.

Normally, I do Oxford. Given that it’s famous for its geese, when I ask Zubin a difficult question, I start by telling him that his goose is cooked, and when I giggle at “gaggle” (a flock of geese when not in flight), I add, “Sorry, I got curried away.” Or when he gets homesick and fails to find familiar Caribbean or Indian food, I tell him, “Don’t take that on. It’s a nan issue. You’re too well bread to bother.”

When Zubin was at school in Antigua, I joked that since he knew his Ps and Qs, he should watch his pees and shoes, and in England what mattered was watching his peas and queues. A man went home bragging to his wife about his promotion to vice president. He kept going on and on to the point where she couldn’t take any more and decided to put him in his place. “Look, being a vice president isn’t that special,” she said. “They even have a vice president of peas at the supermarket!” Not believing her, the man called the supermarket and demanded, “Get me the vice president of peas!” The clerk replied, “Fresh, canned, or frozen?”

In terms of queues, I told him about the days I worked in the office of the prime minister. In those days, in the posh residential areas of the city (and even now in many other parts of Trinidad), people, rich and poor alike, had to line up at a “standpipe” for water. One day, in the extremely long line, a Port-of-Spain businessman got fed up, threw his bucket on the ground, jumped and stomped up, down and sideways on it till it was almost flat, and then shouted loudly, “I am fed up with this, I’m going to the prime minister to complain and get some action.” The man rushed off. The next day, with a new bucket in hand, he was back in the line, quietly awaiting his turn. One of his friends asked him loudly, “I thought you said you were going to the prime minister to get some action about the water situation? What happen?” The man shook his head sadly and said, “You think this line long?”

I thought of breadlines, deadlines and Trinidad’s idea of water lines when Zubin told me he was at the airport on his way to Greece and then Turkey. I asked him what the Greeks said after Constantinople was taken by the Turks? “What a load of Istanbull!” I then told him that I tried to eat some Chobani yogurt and it was all Greek to me, and worse, the first French fry wasn’t cooked in France. It was cooked in Greece.

Now that he has left Greece, I asked him “Why did the police arrest the turkey?” and when he gave up, I explained, “They suspected fowl play!” My last quip as I wrapped up this column was that one day, out of the blue, Zubin abruptly decided to stop eating meat. He did it cold turkey.

*Tony Deyal was last seen asking Zubin, “What’s the difference between fried eggs and pea soup?” Anybody can fry eggs but not everyone can…



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