One moment he is an avalanche gushing down the mountain, scattering all that comes in his way and another moment he is like the bird in the mountain, poking his beak around with suspicious curiosity as he makes his way through. In a flash of blurring movements, he has grabbed a fistful of garlic cloves, rinsed it and dispersed on to the cutting board; one hand holding the tip of the knife, another firmly around the handle, the finely shaped cloves are tattered bits in a matter of seconds and it fills the air with it’s juices! And they are thrown on to the pan as a farmer would throw seeds on one’s farm. In another blur of movements, in go sliced onions and with a confident arm he picks up the pan, tilts it down a little and gives it a good twist and toss making the onions and garlic sizzle and jump; a quirky smile on his face, happy with himself on being so cool & precise with the pan tossing! And then he waits patiently for the onions to brown; no hurried swishing around the onions with a ladle or re-adjusting heat from low to high to low, “they don’t need to be molly-coddled into browning, you know”, he chuckles.
Meanwhile, an order for a Jack-fruit Smoothie. A mixing jar is propped on to the machine. He is an avalanche again! A little of coconut milk, a little of soya milk tilted seemingly in random proportions into the jar (except that he knows exactly how much he wants of each, down to the drop!!), but not before he carefully tastes a drop of each, raises an eye-brow & judges it’s freshness and in a splash they are in the jar. A fistful of squishy jack-fruit thrown in with the milks, a headless-chicken like walk around the kitchen and he is back with a grater and what seems like a big nut and in a matter of quick wrist jerks, he has grated the nut right into the jar while he held the grater above it in mid air! And again, precise to just the right amount of nut shavings he wants! A round or two to let the machine do it’s job and what looked like yellow blobs floating in milk is now a dense flowing burst of ripened jack-fruit smells with a hint of nuttiness. He pours himself a spoonful of it, takes a quick sniff and then a slow sip, scrunching his nose, eyes narrowed & widened, eyebrows frowned and relaxed as he judges the flavors in the spoonful and ends with a wide smile! Without any more thought, pours in a glassful, right up to the brim and sends it off to what will be a delighted guest!
And the onions have beautifully browned, as if in planned synchrony with the smoothie rush! A handful of finely grated carrot goes in and soon after, bowls full of squishy squished tomatoes are poured in; a sprinkle of assorted powders in an act of magical illusion like you would imagine a witch bent over a pot cooking up magical potions. A gentle but firm mix with an old fashioned wooden ladle and this pan is left forgotten for a long long while. Slow Cooked Tomato Sauce, thick & tangy with a tinge of sweetness; you will know it is ready when the air fills with a smell that is tangy in itself! Everything smells almost just as it tastes, it is like one can smell the taste! Not everyone can cook like that.
He is such a delight to watch while he cooks! He is a madcap with knives & ladles; moving from frown to smile, from brisk slicing & chopping to hopping around looking for things, from rushed mixing & tossing to slow & careful sprinkling, all in a matter of moments and movements. The kitchen looks like a flood has hit it when he is done…and well, he was the flood that hit it! Except, this flood brings with it all things delicious with crave-inducing smells!
* He, is a chef/baker/founder at/of Terrassen Cafe (www.facebook.com/poetsandoats/) *