(Just a note – Theobroma means “Food of gods” which originates from theobromine a chemical in chocolate. And don’t miss the slideshow at the end with the captions…Okay, enough of my preaching, please do begin reading….)
It was a true fit to the word- Theobroma…
So, if god in the heavens above, after all the day’s work of whatever he manages from up there sits down for his fine-dine dinner with the goddesses this one could have, in my opinion made it as the perfect dessert course. One, it was made of chocolate, two it was chocolate in it’s pure form, untouched by stabilizers, creamers and chemicals and lastly, the most important of all, it was home-made.
In my mind I was about to put forward the ‘Chef’s recommendations’ to impress the goddesses so that they may fulfill all my wishes and desires in life that Nina*, my friend, a dentist and also the architect behind this chocolate structure made a comment that pulled me down from the heavenly clouds and slammed me back on this earth.
“For you it would be just another chocolate cake”, she said.
Little did she know that for me it was anything but that…
Not just me, but even great chefs have said that food is a language, that is not spoken, but yet understood by all, it has it’s own dialects, it’s own way to express itself. To me that cake was (and am sure you are all going to laugh at this) like my mother-tongue, a language you have known since you are born. I remembered my mother making small cakes, coating them with icing, experimenting with various shapes and designs and making one for everyone’s birthday from mine to my cousin’s to all my friends and families. Slowly that hobby spread its roots to a catering service and with all the fertilizers of love and support that my father, a gourmet himself, gave to this small sapling of a business it soon grew into a big tree. But it didn’t do just that, what it mainly did was teach me the language of food, gave me the power to express it, to create the magic of flavors and textures on the plate and the palate and imbibed in me the passion to go beyond stereotypical statements like “such good grades and all you are going to do in your life is chop onions?!” and build a dream of profession in the culinary world.
But glamour, the search of perfection, invincible power of creativity are other few of the many dialects of the food-language, and those tend to overpower one’s culinary mother-tongue. To win the cut-throat war of achieving the medal of honors of the James Beard, Bocuse, Michelin, Times, Vogue and to be a on the top lists of the world’s most influential powers of gastronomy, we, the soldiers of culinary have developed ‘weapons’ ranging from Sous-Vide (vacuum cooking), UV marinators, laser guns, anti-griddles, foaming siphons and resorted to ammunitions like nitrous oxide, liquid nitrogen, alginates and Xanthans; And that too at such an intense pace, we can almost say we are in league with the super-powers stocking up on their nuclear weapons as if war would break out tomorrow.
This race, and the passion had victimized me and the cake had a weird healing effect on me, as if it was reminding me of the simplicity of food and the origins of it. It spoke to me of never to be forgotten age-old methods and of the professional yet homely approach to food. It seemed to tell me that lost in the development of modern tools and techniques are the grandmother’s secret recipes, the motherly love of seasoning a dish and one simple ratio of perfecting any plate – just add a cup of care, a dash of love, a few tablespoons of happiness and spike it with an honest smile.
Like the rich ganache that layered the tiers of the gâteaux my thoughts were getting layered with memories of the vast variety of food I ever had. The best ones not being my dining experiences of Jean-georges, Daniel and other of the worlds finest, most revered restaurants but those of the wonderful creations my mother whipped up for every dinner back home, of those delicious delicacies my aunt in California and Boston made just for me, of those home-made parathas my friend’s mother had hurriedly packed and shoved into my hands in a quick meet over their visit to the States so I could get a taste of mom-made food…..aah…the layers just went on and on….
……I hadn’t eaten that cake but I could feel it was delicious; it had already given me a satisfying sense of satiety, like a content diner at the end of a scrumptious dessert proceeding an equally delectable meal. I laughed as I thought, Nina’s ‘just another chocolate’ cake had given a simple justification – in the glory of progress, success and glamor in the flavor world ignoring the roots of one’s passion and the simplicity of food, for any aspiring chef, would mean being unjust;
And that, I really hope I would never be…….
* – name changed