Monday, July 03, 2006

On Meeting a Childhood Foe

Back then, yodeling "Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, guess I'll go eat worms” was fun but slimy pui saag with rice was gross. My grandmother would cook that horrible, mucus-ey stuff with a vengeance every time we visited her during the summer. My Dad harbored some ill-begotten notions about the curative and cooling powers of pui and this wrecked havoc on our sensitive palates every summer. Besides, the name itself was repulsive. Repeat it in a whiny tone and voila! you have a new term of abuse. The only other vegetable that incited such passion in our household was the ubiquitous patol.

So after all these years, it was strange to find oneself excited at the sight of a plastic wrapped bunch of greens in the vegetable aisle. The label said red shen-choy but the Boy and I nodded at each other and went "pui". Yikes!!!. But now that we are all grown up and mature we decided to act our age and bring the offending shrub of greenery home, where it was sauteed with ground up mustard, ginger and green chillies. It tasted good, even the Boy agreed. But is red shen-choy really Chinese for pui...now that my dear friends is the million dollar question. You see, I just don't remember how the vile slush from my childhood nightmares tasted. But its good to know that I don’t hate it anymore. And on my next trip home I might even ask for some, which as my Mom will tell you is quite a rarity.

PS: Most Bengalis might know what pui and patol are. I believe patol is called parwal in Hindi but that's about it. I have no clue what they are called in English.

9 comments:

Buchu said...

hello hello,
was wondering if u have a recipe for cooking chickpeas. i've left my trusted recipe book behind and since i've cooked this one particular chickpea recipe only once before, i don't want to take a risk. If you have a chickpea recipe can you please please email it to me??
thanks a ton :)

Joy Forever said...

I only hope you didn't "pick up" any Potols... by the way you can check out this for the english names of bengali vegetables. To be honest, I don't even know the bengali names of most of these... :P
And you can buy Pui and Patol online here.
You know the odd thing? In Google, "pui shak" gave about twice the number of results than that for "shen choy"!

Joy Forever said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Rambler said...

Hi Anyesha

It's strange how when stuck abroad we even crave childhood foes, or in your case pui shak.

Anyway, from your description and from the net, pui-shak seems similar to red shard. You get it at Moms (where it's way overpriced) and at the Korean store. We Mallus make a 5 minute dish with it, which is quite tasty.

BTW, I love Bengali food and am a fan of shukto, which my other Bengali friends don't seem to like.

Rambler

Twisted DNA said...

I don't know, I would actually have felt bad upon discovering pui is not as gross as I believed it to be all my life. Losing a childhood foe is probably as sad losing a childhood friend!

M (tread softly upon) said...

Well new taste-buds probably sprout up while you are growing. There are so many things i like now that I absolutely hated when I was a kid. Like dhonepata (cilantro) for example.
BTW you have a jasmine plant at home? Where'd you get it? I love the flowers. Reminds me of home and warm summer evenings and the smell of the scorched earth after a fresh shower.

Anyesha said...

joy forever: no thanks, finding pui was enough. I don't inted to mail order patol as I am not ready to rethink our relationship...yet..hmppph!

rambler: I love shukto too. And yes, everything is overpriced at MOM's.

twisted dna: Never thought about it..now I am sad as I have one less thing to direct my anger at.

M: Yes I do, my Dad bought the plant for me when he was here last year, from the College Park Farmers Market. There is an elderly gentleman who gets them and he has them this year too.

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

In case nobody's mentioned it yet, potol is the "wax gourd". Not that anybody cares. Or should.

And I love it. Doi potol, bhaaja, kaliya, dolma ...

J.A.P.

Anyesha said...

But there is such a thing as too much "patol"...specially in the summer months. Anyway I am getting old and soft so I might as well make peace with the mighty "patol". Two references to patol for a post about pui...now that is a sign. Better mend my ways before being subjected to the proverbial "patol tola".