A Short story about Grandmother’s Kitchen for kids

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Home is where the heart is. And the kitchen with its delicious aromas is the heart of many a home. Ruskin Bond still remembers the aromas of his Grandmother’s kitchen. As kitchens went, it wasn’t that big. It wasn’t big as the bedroom or the living room, but it was big enough, and there was a pantry next to it. What made it fabulous was all that came out of it : good things to eat like kababs and curries, chocolate fudge and peanut toffee, jellies and gulab jamuns, meat pies and apple pies, stuffed turkeys, stuffed chickens, stuffed eggplant, and hams stuffed with chickens !

Granny was the best cook in the world.

If Granny was the best cook in the world, I must have been the boy with the biggest appetite and I was very lucky, because not every boy has a grand-mother who can cook like an angel. (That is, if angels do any cooking).

Every winter when I came home from boarding school, I would spend at least a month with Granny before going on to spend the rest of the holidays with my parents in Assam, where my father was the manager of a tea estate. The tea gardens were great fun, but my parents couldn’t cook. They employed a khansama – a professional cook – who made good mutton curry but little else. Mutton curry for dinner can be a bit tiring, especially for a boy who likes to eat almost everything.

So I was always glad to go to Granny’s place for the holidays.

She was glad to have me too, because she lived alone most of the time. Not entirely alone, though… there was a gardener, Kanta, who lived in an outhouse. And he had a son called Mohan, who was about my age. And there was Suzie, the Siamese cat with bright blue eyes, and a mongrel dog called Crazy because he ran in circles round the house.

So Granny wasn’t really alone. All the same, she was glad to have me. She didn’t enjoy cooking for herself, she said – she had to cook for someone. And although the cat and the dog appreciated her efforts, a good cook likes to have a boy to feed, because boys are adventurous and ready to try the most unusual dishes.

Whenever Granny tried out a new recipe on me, she would wait for my comments and reactions, and then make a note in an exercise book. These notes were useful when she tried it out on others.

“Do you like it?” she’d ask, after I’d taken a few mouthfuls.

“Yes, Gran.”

“Sweet enough?”

“Yes, Gran.”

“Not too sweet?”

“No, Gran.”

“Would you like some more?”

“Yes, please Gran.”

“Well finish it off.”

“Mmmm…”

Roast Duck.

This was one of Granny’s specialties.

The first time I had roast duck at Granny’s place, Uncle Ken was there too.

Although Uncle Ken had a tremendous appetite, and ate just as much I did, he never praised Granny’s dishes. I think this was why I was angry with him at times.

Uncle Ken looked down at the roast duck, his glasses slipping down to the edge of his nose.

“Hmmm…duck again, Aunt May?”

“What do you mean, ‘Duck again’? You haven’t had duck since you were here last month.”

“That’s what I mean,” said Uncle Ken. “Somehow, one expects more variety from you, Aunt May.”

All the same, he took two large helpings and ate most of the stuffing before I could get at it. I took my revenge by emptying all the apple sauce onto my plate.

Uncle Ken knew I loved stuffing; and I knew he was crazy about Granny’s apple sauce. So we were even.

By Ruskin Bond


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