Some stories happen inside the kitchen. You have to keep your eyes and ears wide open to listen to them. Here the silent ones talk the most, and modest ones are dominating! Every kitchen is a large joint family, full of fights and make-ups, jealousy and inspiration, and of course, the “kitchen politics”, as sensational as a prime-time tele-show. Have you switched on yet?
A six hours old chapati is getting recycled to be made into Chapati Pocket with all fresh ingredients. She is a senior among the scribes hence, and loves to throw her weight around.
Main Characters in this culinary drama :
1. Ms. Chapy Chapati
2. Mr. Onie Onion
3. Mr. Gimmy Garlic
4. Mr. Tommy Tomato
5. Mr. Peter Potato
6. Mr. Capia Capsicum
7. Mr. Reddy (Red chilli powder)
8. Mr. Corry (Coriander powder)
9. Mr. Turma (Turmeric Powder)
10. Mr. Sally Salt
11. Gin Ginger
12. Mr. Maddy Mustard (Mustard Seeds)
13. Mr. Cucu Cumin
14. Mr. Olly Oil
15. Mr. Bimbo Butter
16. Mr. Chasy Cheese
“Hello everyone, are you all ready for today’s mission?” asked Ms Chapy Chapati to all the members of the Pockets’ mission.
“Yes we are ready, let’s do it”, replied everyone in union.
Three different communities - veggies, spices and fats, with six hours old lady, Chapati, were gathered for a mission called Pockets. They were chatting while waiting for their turn to play their part to fulfil the mission. Proud of herself, the old chapatti raised an eye-brow. “I am the most important character in the mission as I am already experienced and have the privilege to get used for the second time. How do you all think you are useful here?”
Other three communities stared her in disbelief. They all were proud of their strengths and qualities. They started murmuring within themselves. Chapati interrupted saying, “Okay kiddos, don’t talk among each other. You all will get chance one by one. Let’s start with the one who goes to work first.”
Everyone knew their respective turns, and so they started.
“You are first Mr. Olly Oil”, said Chapati.
Olly Oil passed a sarcastic smile. “90% of the missions cannot start without me. As you all know, I am the very first step for almost everything. Without me, if you’ll put other communities directly in pan on stove, they will burn instead of getting cooked. I provide savoury flavour, texture and appearance to them.”
“But you are also the cause of obesity, heart problems, cholesterol and cancer. Aren’t you?” smirked Chapati arrogantly.
This statement of the oldie irritated Olly. “Please don’t comment if you don’t know the whole truth. Yes, I can cause all these problems but only if I am used excessively. Otherwise, I contain vitamin A, D, E, and K that a human body needs. I have an important contribution in building the health of human body. Also, I have been proven to lower blood pressure.”
“Oh whatever! I don’t carry any severe harm with myself like you,” Chapati shooed him off, asking him to go for his duty.
“Even I don’t carry any severe harm. In fact I hardly carry any harm with myself”, Mr. Maddy Mustard said sceptically, as he was the next.
“Oh really? As far as I know, if you are taken in inappropriate proportions, you are a disaster to both taste and health.” Chapati replied smartly. She saw Maddy frowning, and added, “Come on. Leave aside minute things like causing irritation and skin damages, but what about the effect on Cardiac Muscles or increasing the risks of lung cancer or causing miscarriage for pregnant women? Don’t you consider these severe, Mr. tiny black ugly-looking Maddy?”
Chapati’s heartless monologue exasperated Maddy. He answered flatly, “Any damn thing consumed excessively will harm the body, which includes you too!” He made a face.
“Umm… Just for your knowledge, no one can eat me excessively, you see. Once they are full, they can’t have me anymore.” There was a laugh in Chapati’s voice. Maddy gave away and left the place without a word.
Chapati was now in full confidence as she threw another challenging look, but this time at Mr. Cucu Cumin. “Don’t you have to rush after Maddy, Cucu? I thought you are his minion!”
“Don’t stress so much by worrying about me Ms. Chapy. Maddy will call me when its time. You can relax.” Cucu replied with a sweet smile. “I don’t have much time, so let me get it straight, before you start my character assassination. Doctors tell people to tone down my presence in their food when they face heartburns, liver damage, low blood sugar levels, etc. but I am not a direct contributor to these issues. Besides, I am one of the favourites with fitness freaks and beauty conscious personalities, as my weight loss components and anti-ageing values are very strong, thanks to my Vitamin E and A genes. I prevent cancer, regulate blood pressure, strengthen immunity and I am famous for boosting digestion. Ciao!”
Chapati was about to spill a comeback response when Cucu reacted loudly to Maddy’s shrill call. “Don’t shout, I am on my way.” And left without giving any chance to Chapati.
Mr. Onie Onion and Mr. Gimmy Garlic both came forward together.
“Hey, I think it’s my turn”, Gimmy was arguing. That’s a regular problem with him.
Onie rolled his eyes at Gimmy. “You know that you are not so favourite with Olly, right? He will burn you if you go without protection. Are you trying to be a hero? Because if you are, then let me tell you that it’s not brave, it’s stupid.”
Gimmy shrugged. Onie advised calmly, “Bro. Let me go first. I’ll soothe Olly with my water content and you’ll be safe then. You enter when I am done with my makeover to a beautiful golden pink, okay?”
“If you both are done with your bickering, then tell me Onie, what can you do besides making humans cry by burning their eyes?” asked Chapati sarcastically.
“Well, I can make you stink if I stay with you in a closed container for even an hour, Ms. Chapy Chapati. Wanna give it a try?” Onie gave her a crooked smile as if to threaten her, while Chapati gave him a pointed look.
“Anyway, let’s come to the point. I don’t affect adversely except some vague allergies or a heartburn sometimes. Instead I am known for my own multiple benefits. I am good for skin, diabetes, immunity, cancer, cholesterol, stress relief, digestion, blood Pressure and so on”, said Onie nonchalantly. He was waiting for Chapati to come up with some other strange counter logic but Chapati simply said, “Okay, thanks for your input.” Onie silently laughed as she realised how his threat to stink her had worked.
Gimmy was usually very high-headed but after Chapati’s withdrawal from his protector Onie, his nervousness dissolved. He started proudly, “Hey, don’t you forget about me. Besides having antibacterial and antiviral properties, I have multiple benefits when it comes to severe diseases. But I will not dwell so much into those as I have a legacy to maintain. That’s about my history.” Chapati was trying to act as if she was not interested, but ‘history’ was the word that made her really curious.
Gimmy did not notice her and continued boasting. “I have some notable records in history. I was identified by ancient Indians who acknowledged me with medicinal properties. Later, when I gradually reached Egypt through trade, they embraced me as an important medical ingredient and considered me to be a direct source of strength. Above all, they also recognized me as religious ingredient which can prolong life. Isn’t it great?” Gimmy did not notice or care about Chapati’s whatsoever expressions and went away with head held high.
Mr. Gin Ginger couldn’t take this any longer. He had to jump in to claim his position. “Onnie, Gimmy and I almost go hand in hand when it comes to food values. We are childhood friends turned colleagues. We share so many characteristics. So whatever they said apply for me too, except that I also am a natural pain killer. We can discuss this in detail some other time as I am in great hurry right now.” He passed a genuine goodbye smile to Chapati.
Chapati did not react. She was done with all those threats, insults and ignorance by those brother-like members. It was about time that she came back with something smart to boost her own confidence. She looked at her left and smirked. Mr. Capia Capsicum stood with an irritating smile, eager to please her. She knew there was no point of debating health with him as there was nothing unhealthy about him.
“Hello Mr. Capia, how do you do?” She tried to steer his attention towards her.
Capia Capsicum walked forward bumping here and there and spoke in a heavy accent, “I am good Ms. Chapy. You can ask me whatever you want. I have a list of all the benefits I carry, which are even related to cancer and diabetes.”
Chapati started off with ease.
“Oh, what to ask you Mr. Capia? We all know that you are not harmful in any manner. You carry impressive portion of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. You come with your own lot of benefits and we really admire you for that. But, I was just wondering that why are you so plump and bumpy? There is nothing inside you except those seeds which are thrown away. It’s like those fat brains with unnecessary air inside.”
Chapati gave him an innocent and curious look but her face shouted ‘gotcha’ when she saw Capia’s expressions. She was well aware that the shape of Capia was the only thing he was under-confident about and she had managed to hit him right there.
There was no way Capia was going to answer back to this rude lady. He was walking off silently when Mr. Tommy Tomato spoke for him.
“You know what Ms. Chapy, unlike you Capia is cultivated worldwide. You get to work only in some regions of Asia but Capia is an international figure. The whole world knows him. He is a key element in many international cuisines and over that, he is also used as medicines. Oh! My bad. How can I forget to mention how colourful he is? Not like some monotonous boring wheatish brown obviously.” She took a cruel dig at Chappy, leaving her stunned.
Capia smiled at Tommy gratefully and left.
Chapati prepared to fight with Tommy, “How wonderfully you listed the qualities of your international celebrity, Capia, which are missing in me. But what about you? I think even you have one quality which I don’t share. That is causing kidney stones with your seeds. Would you like to add any further knowledge to that?”
“How old are you Ms. Chapy?” Tommy asked innocently.
Chapati didn’t understand whether his tone had mockery or curiosity.
He continued, “Don’t talk like an ill-informed child. The information you have about me is obsolete. It’s already proved to be a myth, years ago.”
“What do you mean?” asked Chapati.
He explained, “Kidney stones are caused due to consumption of excessive oxalate. I do have it in me. But the quantity is not so high that it can lead to kidney stones. So just like any other character that has passed through your so called tests, if I am unhealthily prepared and consumed in abnormal amounts, only then I might get harmful for a human body. This fact applies to all the issues I may carry. Otherwise, I am actually good for kidneys. I have proved myself to be good for skin, heart, hair, bones, eyes and blood. And before I leave, I would like to add to your knowledge that even I am an international personality unlike you, Ms. Chapy Chapati. Have a good day.”
Chapati was not expecting this. She did not like to feel embarrassed or humiliated. Before she could respond, Tommy was gone for good. Four characters from powder family stood in line waiting for their call. Mr. Reddy Red Chilli Powder, Mr. Corry Coriander Powder, Mr. Turma Turmeric Powder, and Mr. Sally Salt.
They all were witness to Chapati’s attempts to insult her colleagues, since the last ten minutes. To spare themselves from her long conversations and blame-games they let Reddy take charge. They knew that he was true to his character; fierce in words if anyone messed with him.
Chapati also realized their smartness and was careful not to say anything which offended Reddy. “Hello Mr. Reddy, how do you do?” She asked. “I understand that you all will be in so much hurry and so you are going to be the spokesperson today. I would not like to waste your time by adding my side of the conversation. The stage is all yours.” She moved back gesturing Reddy to assume position.
Reddy started, “There is a very famous saying which summarises Mr. Sally; - its presence is not felt but its absence makes all the things tasteless. This is very true. Nothing except a sweet mission can be conducted without Sally. Even though he might cause many dangerous effects like blood pressure, stomach cancer, kidney diseases, obesity, etc. hardly anyone wants to conduct a mission without him. He is also essential for health only if he is taken in limited quantity which is less than 1 gram per day for adult and even less for children.”
Sally didn’t like few things which Reddy mentioned but he didn’t object as they were truth. Plus he did not have the spine to cross Reddy. They all had selected him and he knew that this was a part of the deal.
Sally left. Reddy continued, “Now let’s talk about the oldest and the most common medicine of Asia. Turma carries so many benefits with himself that his harms stand negligible, if at all. He is loaded with many healthy nutrients due to which he can treat a wide variety of health problems. Name any big disease like cancer, diabetes, arthritis, cholesterol, weak immunity, alzheimer or liver problems, Turma either heals them or prevents them. Even when it comes to routine troubles like cold and cough, weight loss, digestion or healing of wounds, Turma always helps. He is the most beneficial one among all of us.” He said truthfully.
Mr. Turma was on cloud nine. He took proud steps towards the cooking pan.
Reddy directed towards Mr. Corry. “He is a second cousin to Ms. Carry, the coriander leafs. Even he is used in medications. He is good for digestion and also enhances appetite. He also helps in purifying the blood and curing fever as well as various allergies. His aroma invites even the most non-interested eater when he joins a mission. He too carries some of the side effects like liver problems, allergies, skin problems, low blood sugar or stomach problems. But again all these apply with everyone when used excessively.”
Corry had left even before Reddy was finished. Now Reddy had to talk about himself. He was very much loyal when he spoke about the other three. Now it was an unspoken responsibility to be honest when it came to himself. “To be very frank, I am a very furious character. I am more prone towards causing harm than good, whether or not I am used as an ingredient in a recipe. I can give a burning sensation to skin. Humans are very careful while using me. I am consciously kept away from any sensitive part of human body and also from kids.” He sighed. “Everyone comes here with their plus and minus. It’s the same with me. Besides helping with digestive system and blood pressure, I also assist in Red Blood Cell formation, fight infections, increase haemoglobin production and enhance blood flow. I am also good for hair and skin. And I make food tastier, if someone loves spicy food. The harms mostly include stomach problems and in extreme case there are cancer risks but that is not too common.”
Chapy was listening quietly to everything what Reddy said. This time she genuinely appreciated his truthfulness. He literally gave facts without boasting about anything or anyone. Now she looked at Mr. Peter Potato but he stood out to be a complete contrast.
Mr. Peter came almost singing and chanting, “I am favourite of all, especially kids. People like me in any form. I am the most used character in every mission. I am dynamic and super talented. I am a part of such a vast community which is almost about 5000 types worldwide. I am the best.”
Chapy rolled her eyes in frustration. She was actually not interested in talking to him as he had always been very argumentative and a big boaster. She simply said, “Whatever it is Peter, I just understand one thing that you are the first one who is disowned when humans think of health and fitness. Many surely love you but there is a big population that hates you as well. Now don’t argue with me any further about this and just leave.”
Peter left angrily. He didn’t care what Ms. Chapy said. Instead he continued with his chants while jumping into the pan.
Chapati didn’t want the whole thing of Peter getting repeated by anyone else. So she started off at Mr. Chasy Cheese. “So even you are favourite of every human, right Mr. Chasy? But I would like you to consider what I had already said to Peter. What do you think about yourself since you are often disowned by the fitness freaks?”
“Okay fine, I agree to what all you said but then I am also rich in Calcium and Vitamin D. I am also healthy for heart. I am helpful for athletes when it comes to giving them more energy and high level of protein and calcium for heavier and stronger bones. And at the end of the day, the problem with over consumption things will always remain the same with everyone, am I right?”
Chasy went straight ahead without waiting for Chapati’s answer. Now came was Chapati’s favourite moment for which she had been waiting for the last 15 minutes. It was the turn of Mr. Bimbo Butter who had much more disadvantages then benefits.
When she looked at Mr. Bimbo and was about to start, Bimbo’s words taped her mouth puting her to a loss for words. He snapped, “I am just not interested in listening to a single word uttered by you. What do you think of yourself, Ms. rotten old cranky lady?”
Chapati’s expressions reflected a clear shock towards his harsh words.
Bimbo was encouraged further by her speechlessness. “Yes you heard me right. Everyone respects you as an elder and you insult them. For me you are not any elder and matured being, but a rotten and cranky character. The cry doll, the attention seeker, the self-obsessed. I refuse to hear my characteristics being fabricated by your wicked tongue, so just keep quiet and listen to me.” Bimbo was angry and he made no attempts to hide that. “Whatever harms and benefits I carry with me, should not matter to you. What you should keep in mind is that I am going to make you look more attractive and will make you shine with a beautiful texture. I am the one who will now garnish you, so you look quite tempting and delicious. So let’s go and get our job done. While you envelope everyone into a chapati pocket, I will brush you up a little from all the sides’ old aunty. I hope you’ll learn and respect your juniors from now on.”
Chapati quietly followed Mr. Bimbo. The last few minutes with him had perhaps made her age much more than she did since last six hours.
While everyone was busy in their conversation, no one noticed one more character who was listening quietly to all of them standing in a corner. When finally Ms. Chapy and Mr. Bimbo left, he came forward and called out loud, “Every one of them was so much caught up in themselves! No one realised that I am the one who will finally give the satisfactory closure to the mission. They all together are somehow incomplete without me. I am the one who will add final sprinkles of charm to the mission. Without me they are not even a complete package. I am the self-explanatory character!”
That was Mr. Ketchy, the ketchup.
Author : Bhavi Gathani
Bhavi Gathani, a journalist by profession, hails from Rajkot, Gujarat. After completing her graduation and masters in commerce, she landed in the city of dreams, Mumbai to pursue a different path and hence joined a Journalism course. An introvert by nature, she prefers to express herself on paper rather than being vocal about everything. She worked as a Bollywood Journalist in a premiere film trade magazine in Mumbai. Apart from the world of films, she is also a foodie who loves the culinary world and loves to even write about food.