Tuesday, July 14, 2009
One would think, with all the foreign-born ball players in my town this week, I'd be itching to write about how the Dominicans dominate pitching Zen or some such thing. But as I know next to nothing about baseball, and am feeling too lazy to commit to an hour of research, I'm going to, how do you say, bunt?
The photo above depicts what I like to call the Mystery Shelf. I know what many of these items are. For example, in the front row, from left to right we have a jar of mustard seeds, a tub of jaggery balls (unrefined, molassesy sugar in a sticky, hard lump), a lifetime supply of bay leaves, a vat of turmeric, and a tub of toor dal (split yellow lentils, for dal). Reclining across the turmeric and toor dal is a packet of urid dal (a very small dried bean) I bought a few weeks ago so I can take another stab at making dosa and (maybe) idli.
But that teeny-tiny sunshiny tub on top of the Nescafe tin? No clue. And those jars you can see the yellow tops of in the far right-hand corner? Um, yeah. That's why they're back there. I've taken the Magical Mystery Shelf Tour several times, opening and sniffing every single tub, jar and tin; if I don't know what something is, I put it in the back.
Now, I can hear the questions forming. "Why keep stuff if you don't know what it is?" "Is this the laziest woman alive?" But here's what you need to know: This shelf may be in my house, but it is not my shelf. It's my mother-in-law's. I've suggested, ever so gently once or twice, okay maybe four times, that we stow these things elsewhere until she returns to visit (read: returns to cook all day, every day, needing every item on the Mystery Shelf, and more). These gentle suggestions have been rejected and I have gracefully abandoned my campaign for more pantry space.
So I take occasional tours through the Mystery Shelf, and sometimes hold items up to the webcam during a video call for ID purposes, and look forward to the day when my Amma is here to show me what everything is for.