Why I Wrote The ‘F-Word’

The Asian Age

10 November 2010 – Mita Kapur


Tucked into bed, scrunching my way through a rich, dark brown, speckled, crisp, caramelised meethi roti and trying to think of why I wrote The F-Word. A phone conversation with my graphic designer comes to mind. This was at 10.30 am on a Wednesday. “The design for the Siyahi catalogue is almost done. You need to organise your authors categories better.”

“Can I get back in an hour.” The pressure cooker’s whistle gave me away.
“What are you doing in the kitchen at this hour on a working day?”
“Cooking — dinner at home for 30 — mutton qorma on the gas.”
Wicked cackle — “Oh, that’s the housewife in you breaking out.” The onions were turning pink and sweating. “Huh?”
“No, I think you are the ultimate housewife werewolf!”
“The housewife in you gnashes and tears through your working woman skin every once in a while…”
“Yeah right, mister.”
“That is true lady, every few days you remember you have a home, husband and kids and you fight with them, bumble around in the kitchen, make sure your staff hates you — that is what the ultimate housewife is.”

Some splutters later the realisation came that all those years spent trying out, experimenting, creating new dishes are deeply entrenched in my psyche and translate into natural instinct now. I guess it’s the mom in me which made me write The F-Word. It began as a little something I wanted to gift my daughters and over a period of time which was centred around bringing up three kids and a husband, living in a joint family, cooking and feeding people, hosting dinners, the book grew in my mind as lots of pieces of experiential writing.

In all these years cooking was never a chore for me, it’s always been a wonderful creative process and there are always fun moments when the family sits and eats together, banters and squabbles, noses screwed up at a daal sabzi menu, appreciative sighs at a surajmukhi kebab or a Thai red curry. In another manner I wanted to focus on the evolution of the typical ordinary Indian kitchen into a very hip eclectic avatar. We have morphed from a laddu-mathri eating stage to avocado and melon salad in a Cointreu dressing being served without batting an eyelid. And the best part is that we return to our samosas, kachoris, dahi badas, halwas with the same fervour.

Our identities, our characters are textured by the food we eat, by the togetherness we share on our dining tables, by the new flavours we try when we travel to other cities — it’s all a constant and fascinating movement through varied layers in life. The joint family, bonds with friends, people who matter most to me all got woven into the many memories and stories that needed to be told — it took its own shape and the book wrote itself. I also wanted today’s busy generation to feel at home with cooking, to make them feel it’s easy to deal with a meal even after a tiring f*** all day at work and that there is always room to innovate, camouflage, re-create dishes to suit individual taste and time or lack of it.

For all those who have read the book and for all those who will, I wanted it to be a happy experience — that they could identify with the book as almost like reading their own story since families are the same everywhere — just the names and faces change — as quirky, whacked out, and weird. Someone told me today… “I think you wrote this book because you’ve had to deal with people three times your size for the last 21 years!”

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