Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added)
is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers.
--John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Ask the Pot Boy

To the Esteemed Boy, Patron of Pots and Sheikh of Spatulas,

I find myself faced with a difficult problem. I myself am quite one for the kitchen--my appetite for Indian food is endless. My sister, Wren, despairs of my breath ever smelling of anything other than onions and yogurt, and tells me she is sick of eating lentils. What can I do to cure myself of this unfortunate habit? I simply can't make myself eat any other kind of food--it is so delicious! Please help me, or my sister will turn me out of the house.

--Taith Degao


Dear Mr. Degao,

A one for the kitchen—you are a kindred soul of mine! If you have seen our menu for
New Year’s Eve, you may have noticed that some in the Palace are quite fond of Indian food. Perhaps that is precisely why you wrote…

I believe your problem may be a gustatory problem of less-than-subtle nature. Perhaps you may hold off on the lentils and breath-tinting onions—I do not see my way to denying you yogurt—and appease your unfortunate sister. Or perhaps this is a matter of your tarka (chhownk or baghaar, you may say.) Perhaps you are relying too often on the bullies among the spices and sprinkling kalonji or asafetida or fenugreek a little too freely about your kitchen.

On the other hand, your problem may be with the hot-tempered sibling. I know what it is like to have a sister of fire, my friend! Woman can be a demon. I have been frizzled in the fires of female indignation more than once, after a bout of ill-conceived romance. I have skewered--well, enough of me. Let us get back to the incendiary sister. I suspect that you may be leaning on the spices that kitchen-wise Indians recommend for heating up the body. There is no hotter spice than the cinnamon! I recommend a healthy dose of cumin, famous for cooling. Your sister, however graceful and pretty, may well be as hot and piping as a cinnamon tree! Since she appears apt to turn her beloved brother out of the house, I think it quite likely.

Since she may be accustomed to the flame, I recommend that you begin by leaving bowls of the addictive talu caju lying about the house. These spicy cashews will appease her fire-eating desires with cayenne and fresh-ground pepper, while you soothe her inner demon with roasted cumin seeds.


(Myself, I quite like a cinnamon girl. Did you say that she is pretty? Smart, funny, and clean as well? Perhaps I could distract her from this irritating focus on a brother... Write to me "in care of" the Beggar Queen's private address.)

Pax tecum, my pakora-loving friend--
the Pot Boy

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Photo credit: This is a royalty free picture by Marta Rostek of Poland,
obtained via
www.sxc.hu.

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Other replies will soon be posted.


Have a question for the Pot Boy? Please deposit at http://thepalaceat2.blogspot.com/2006/03/pot-boy-tells-all.html.
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3 comments:

  1. Many thanks, King of Kitchens! I will follow your advice closely. And yes, I did notice that New Year's menu. It made me quite ranvenous to read it. I think I must have something to eat now...I'm sure Wren wouldn't mind me eating a few of those cashews.

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  2. I had a delicious meal at The Curry Club in Georgetown on Sunday. Does that count for inclusion in the indocuisinomane club?

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  3. Ah, if only I had been scrubbing the pots! I might have glimpsed Laura with cherry blossoms in her hair...

    Ravenous Taith (Ta-ETH? or rhymes with Faith?), enjoy!

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.