Nuts N Spices

Estimated read time 5 min read

This pandemic has taught us many life lessons and many good habits worth retaining. It has taught us to slow down and retrospect our lifestyle, especially from the health angle. Social media is now flooded with lists of foods to be had on a daily basis to boost our immune system.

The food we thought was ‘healthy’ is not enough to keep us healthy. People have started analyzing their food habits and are trying to tune them accordingly. I also decided to be more health-conscious. I started preparing a herbal coffee with ginger, raw turmeric, pepper, and other spices. We were taking it almost daily at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. Now the frequency has declined to once a week, if at all!

I found a store named ‘Nuts N Spices’ nearby which is exclusively for all kinds of nuts, spices, seeds, and dry fruits (pistachios, figs, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, and many more). We became regular visitors to this shop as we started to include nuts and dry fruits in our diet.

A little bit of flashback: I am not sure about you, but in my childhood in Kerala, the only nuts and dry fruits we used to have were peanuts and dates. That too not on a daily basis. Papa had the habit of snacking on peanuts. Once in a while, Mom used cashewnuts and raisins for making payasam or baking cakes during festivals and on our birthdays.

I still remember cashewnuts and raisins were kept in the smallest jars in the kitchen. I think these two items were in the ‘100 gm’ category in the monthly provisions list. As kids, we considered them more precious than gold. At times, my brother and I attempted kitchen raids when Mom had her afternoon nap. But except once or twice they all turned out to be futile! Mom may have used some special algorithm to store her ‘valuables’ to prevent such thefts! 

Fast forward to the present: Once I was scanning the shelves of the shop, I saw stacks of different flavours of fennel seeds. At home, we never had the habit of having fennel seeds after meals though we used to have them whenever we dine out. Anyway, I bought 2 different packets, one salted and another sweet and assorted.

The salted version was crunchy and I liked it. I started taking it not only after each meal but whenever I walked past the dining table also. Soon it developed into a craving and eventually an addiction (my family says so). This was a surprise to me as earlier I never had the habit of snacking. I shifted the salted fennel to my work desk and within two days I finished the lot!

The very next day I was back in the shop to buy some more. It cost only Rupees 35 for a 100-gm packet. The shopkeeper was not very happy seeing the sudden change in the bill amount from four digits to two digits. Seeing his displeasure I bought a few other dry fruits as well though not required. This process repeated every week without fail.

As days passed by I was more and more emotionally hooked to the salted crunchy fennel seeds. Due to lockdown, that shop did not open anymore, as there were no ‘essential’ items being sold. I do not understand how the Government could consider my crunchy fennel seeds a nonessential item!

I located another small provision store nearby (where there is a will, there is a way!) that delivers ‘essential items’ and luckily some spices too. Items could be ordered over the phone and home-delivered. I ordered a kilo of fennel seeds (called saunf here) thinking proactively of forthcoming lockdowns. But when the delivery was done I could not find my fennel seeds at all. Instead, I got a one-kilo Surf packet! When I checked back with the store they said they thought it was an error from my side. Since in their experience no one had ever ordered one kilo of saunf before!

My husband and kids were not happy with this whole situation at all. I made an effort to convince them of the benefits (using Google). I tried my best to convert at least one of them to a fennel addict. But I failed miserably.

To cut a long story short:

  • I am still addicted to (rather, attracted to) salted, crunchy fennel seeds. But I have it only after lunch/dinner. (One small step taken is worth more than a thousand steps planned.)
  • I prepare roasted, salted fennel seeds at home now. (DM me for the recipe.)
  • I enlightened the shopkeeper by imparting the benefits of fennel seeds so that he would never again deliver Surf instead of saunf. (Knowledge grows through sharing, not accumulation.)
  • Last but not least, I have become very empathetic to the inhabitants of de-addiction centers. (Empathy and compassion are the panaceas that the world needs!)

Have you had any similar experiences during the pandemic? Please let me know the lifestyle changes or new food habits you made during these pandemic days. Also please feel free to share your personal story of addiction, if any!

Happy empty-nesting 🙂

The root of suffering is attachment ~ the Buddha

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