To use Rodney Dangerfield's punchline, I don't get no respect. I start talking and friends clear the room. I start lecturing in class and students yawn (right, Zach?) I suspect that after birth when I cried to get oxygen into me, the midwife became comatose!
"So, drop me like a hot potato" I complained.
"Hot? You?" was the response.
A reminder, yet again, that I don't get no respect. What will I ever do without friends like these! ;)
To use an expression like "hot potato" is, if we think about it, yet another way in which we demonstrate that it is a remarkably globalized world in which we live.
To begin with, here I am using a language that is not the language, Tamil, that I first learnt. The mother tongue, as we always referred to in the old country.
And then the potato. A phenomenal example of globalization all by itself.
A couple of years ago, my cousin and her husband were heading to Peru for its typical tourist attractions. She is a committed vegetarian, like how we were all raised. "You have no worries" I told her. "After all, you can have all the potatoes you want."
I bet that was not the first time my response sounded gobbledygook to the other person. So, I explained that Peru is the geographic home for potatoes.
With their fascination for potatoes, the Irish and the Indians and people all over the world might incorrectly think that their people have always had potatoes. Not so.
My paternal grandmother, who lived with us throughout most of my childhood--she died when I was in high school--referred to a bunch of different vegetables as "English vegetables" for a good reason: they were not native to the geography and culture, and they were foreign. Almost always, anything foreign became "English" thanks to the British Raj.
The family lore is that when her brother went to Bombay many, many decades ago, he stayed with one of the extended family members. A special, very special, vegetable was served at lunch for him--green beans. Yes, one of those "English vegetables" that was rare back in the village.
We now routinely use potatoes. Almost every single day, anywhere on this planet. Often, when I make a potato dish, I use garlic, onions, ginger, cilantro, chili flakes.
Extending my grandmother's framework, this combination of potatoes with other ingredients is not even English, but is international, if we go by the geographic origins:
Potato: PeruAwesome, no? Only ginger is truly Indian! It might shock Indians to realize that even their beloved coriander (cilantro) is not really Indian, but is Mediterranean! Rarely is anything in life what it seems on the outside!
Chili: South America
Ginger: Tamil Nadu (India)
Well, whether or not I am dropped as a "hot" potato, I love well-made potato dishes. Especially the Locro I had in Ecuador. Every once in a while, I cook potatoes, like this one that I made quite some months ago and had with a store-purchased paratta. (yes, I have way too many photos of my food creations; I need therapy!)
I might as well end it with a tribute to my grandmother's fascination for "English vegetables" with a dish (green beans with paneer) made in a foreign country by a grandson who has been, for quite a few years, a foreigner when visiting India :)
I bet the friend had no idea that a "hot potato" comment would end up as a lengthy post at my blog! Maybe I will gain some respect, after all. Maybe!