Berry berry nice
May 22, 2011
Guess what? I’ve just found a killer combo. Last night, when i came home famished (so what I packed off some momos and pawfulls of jhalmuri in office?), my enormously better half, read my mind (as always) and served a mushroom quiche and a blueberry muffin she had bought from a Khan Market bakery.
I was overjoyed with the quiche. Mushroom — baked, grilled, stir-fried, drowning in a sea of cheese and in probably any other avatar except the vindaloo-style curry that i was overfed in my early years and now hate — gives me jelly knees. So i wasn’t surprised that the bun, bursting with the meat of the fungi at every bite, turned out to be a sensation.
The next minute, I turned to the muffin. Well, this is a typical relationship — cakes and me. After years of being pummelled with bone-dry vanilla cupcakes, wannabe brownies, gooey chocolate pastries, lemon and strawberry mush, i have reached the plateau of realisation — tiramisu and only tiramisu and nothing else (waffles and pancakes are a different genre of bliss, but more of that later) will have the pleasure of seducing my palate.
So I started sizing up the oven-warmed blueberry muffin with extreme caution. What if the dry loaf disintegrates in my mouth and chokes me? What if the sweet sweet blueberry cloys my senses? What if the cinnamon-flavoured streusel collides in my tongue with the berries?
Irrational fear breeds irrational questions.
I stepped back and reached out to the cellar for something to calm my nerves. It was drizzling outside though the air was yet to pick up the chill from the drops. The Bombay Sapphire pleaded with me to give it a chance. In went the ice cubes with a tinkle and a peg of the Sapphire that i find perfect for my soft taste over Gordon’s and Beefeater, its drier cousins. The tonic water, which has so far prevented me getting malaria in mosquito-infested Delhi, and a splash of lime followed into the highball glass.
“Now then,” i swung back in my hammocky easy chair, took a sip, picked up the cake and unromantically sniffed at it. Not that i never had a blueberry muffin or cheese cake, but still then… A lightning struck nearby and I almost involuntarily took a bite. The smattering of berries, surprise of all surprises, wasn’t at all nauseatingly sweet. Still tentative, I took another bite off the doughy sides. A quick sip followed.
Was i hitherto missing anything in life?
Indeed, i was. I was ignorant of the truth, albeit subjective, that gin-tonic and blueberry muffin (or blueberry cheese cake, i am sure now) make a killer combo. The quinine in the tonic water undercuts, ever so subtly, the sweetness of the berries, leaving behind in the mouth the feel-good flavour of the streusel’s butter-and-flour mix. It’s the flavour that beings back my childhood — the memory of my first visit to an across-the-street bakery in Calcutta from which would waft a heart-warming scent at the earliest hours of the morning.