Comfort counter

June 5, 2010

Ejected from my seat by a throbbing headache and a hint of hunger, i step out of office and hit the CCD outlet in the foyer. Resigned to stumble on an empty shelf as usual — the television guys generally polish off all cakes & shakes by 9 pm — i ready myself for just an Espresso. “A double shot, to be precise,” says Alcazar, my bullish colleague accompanying me in the 10-minute break.

Imagine our surprise when we see rows of sandwiches rubbing corners with their low-calorie cousins, burgers pushing puny yet plump mutton-filled patties to a corner and brownies and muffins competing for a squirt of chocolate sauce.

The choice is tough. And time is short. The perfect situation to push me into a Hamletesque procrastination. Knowing Alcazar will go with almost anything save vegetable patties, i quickly pick up the cue when he throws a half-question in the air: “Do we sample the low-cal sandwich?”

So low-cal it is. The filling — chicken and vegetable shreds rendered gooey in a mayonnaise-like cream — somehow doesn’t go with brown bread. That’s the thing with food — it’s tough pinpointing what exactly has gone wrong with a dish if it isn’t the straightforward “too much salt, too hot or trifle underdone”. In most of the cases when we order, say, ma ki daal at a restaurant, we end up comparing it with the homemade version all of us grew up on.

But back to our CCD story. Half into the bread, we decide to try a chicken tikka sandwich, which till now, unbelievably, i have never ever tasted. For, i love fusion food as much as Hitler loved mixing of bloods. I would rather settle for a tame cheese sandwich or a chicken tikka roll.

This time, the hybrid sandwich, surprisingly, tastes acceptable with a dab of ketchup. Comfort food? Probably yes, when you are tired and hungry and have the prospect of returning to your seat with a jumbled-up copy on Sharad Pawar waiting for you.

My mind goes back to the days when artery-choking paranthas and a bland curry could lift my mood after a day in college. Or, the greasy deep-fried chowmein that Babaida used to dress up with cucumber, onion and sliced green chillies. That’s another thing about food — what makes you happy at an age can piss you off later.

Tikka sandwich done, Espressos, without sugar or milk, is served. A word or two later, we realise it’s 15 minutes since we’ve hit the CCD counter and it’s barely an hour to our deadline. I reach out for my wallet and do the unthinkable.

I order a brownie on an impulse.

I am prejudiced against desserts. It’s weird, but i feel i shouldn’t be seen enjoying a dessert in public. I am shockingly under the impression that spooning a piece of brownie with hot chocolate sauce erotically dripping from it makes for a sensuous frame only with a girl in it.

The only dessert, i believe i’ve ever had, without suffering my irrational guilt, is a Baked Alaska — a flambed vanilla ice-cream, crisp and warm outside and buttery cool inside — at Mocambo, an iconic Kolkata restaurant. May be, because it doesn’t look a usual dessert with bluish flames leaping out of it.

Nibbling at the crumbs of the oven-hot brownie, i realise what made me order the unthinkable. The coffee. The classic caffeine-chocolate combination. The reason why you love dunking bourbon biscuits in a cup of coffee. Both complement each other so well that the sight of one makes us lust for the other.

PS: The quick bite works wonders: it fills me up and lifts my mood so much so that the Pawar copy doesn’t seem so bad after all.

Made for each other


6 Responses to “Comfort counter”

  1. Sharmi said

    Now you know why I like ending all those restaurant meals with a good chunk of brownie?? I can have truckloads of brownies every day, if that is possible that is… Delectable post 🙂

  2. netdhaba said

    i think, from now on, i can have brownies in the open! My phobia, it seems, is gone after sharing my secret in the blog.
    And ya, let’s start with carloads!
    Thanks for your comment 🙂

  3. Alcazar said

    Wonderful post… and I guess we should try your remedy pretty often…. to make life more interesting!
    And to top it all, I featured in the post 🙂
    And, surprisingly, the tikka sandwich felt pretty palatable — even without ketchup

  4. netdhaba said

    @Alcazar: Thank you so much for your comments.
    Your presence in the post spiced it up.
    Next up is our evening narayaning (!) at Gupta Dhaba.
    Till then, tuck in and keep reading.

  5. Abhi said

    Mr D! Hats off for this smooth piece on a mundane snack trip in office that we often make! Exquisitely written:)

    • netdhaba said

      Thanks, buddy 🙂
      You could also accompany us on the snack trips to CCD if, and only if, you manage to keep a tiny bit of empty space in your tummy after those sultry Gupta Dhaba rendezvous 😛

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