Samosa enticed him most
As a Foodie, Atal Ji had Transcended Healthy Food Dogmas.
New Delhi, December 25: Samosa could be one of those eatables that most enticed Atal Behari Vajpayee’s reckless taste buds.
That Samosa was his ‘object of desire’ was revealed in AIIMS, where he had been admitted after a serious chest infection in 2009, to a great amusement of a battery of treating doctors. When the writer had asked one of them, Dr. A.K. Hemal, head of minimal access surgery in AIIMS, about his condition, he said, ‘Going great guns! He was asking me whether he could take a couple of Samosas.’
Had he been today even in a workable condition, guess what he would have asked for after being declared Bharat Ratna on his 90th birthday (December 25). It would most probably have been a couple of Samosas.
# BharatRatna Atalji was not exemplary so far as healthy food fundas are concerned. His indulgence for mouth watering eatables is legendry. As a foodie, Atal ji had transcended healthy food dogmas and ‘religiously’ catered to his varied taste buds.
Unlike his minimalist and ‘choosy for only healthy morsel’ buddy L.K. Advani, Atal jee was an avid foodie. Atal ji would not brook any don’ts as and when his urge for gastronomic delight was triggered. His was a representative famously strong Indian ‘gut’. For his cavalcade, famous food joints scattered all over country would serve as milestones. The 11th PM of India was a veritable atlas of watering holes in India.
Atalji was a stickler for flavors. Even a word that emanated from his mouth had flavors as ‘many in one’. Just as he spoke a word, the media fraternity would pore over it and start chewing the cud to glean the elusive meaning of what exactly he meant, as if they had been served a plateful of mouth watering eatables. Some would savor it as ‘sour’, some sweet and others would dub the same ‘Vajpayee –speak’ as spicy. How was it possible that words dropping from a foodie like him be without any taste!
One, who savored the mystique of his words, must also be in the know that he never compromised so far as favorite food flavors were concerned. Those who were regulars in his cavalcade would avidly mouth his foodie ways. The cavalcade would suddenly take a turn towards a particular food joint that might sometime earlier have served to his palate. His favorite food items included – Samosa, Poori, crisp Kachauri, Dahee Pakauda, Parantha, Kheer (rice pudding), Malpua, Mangori ( Pakauri of kidney bean aka Mung), Khichri (pulse rice) et al. He as avidly savored Chinese food. The list of his favorite eatables is long. Like the diverse culture of the country, his culinary inclinations were also diverse.
His long time associate of over two decades and almost a shadowy presence in his cavalcade, Vijay Goel, exactly knew the geography of food joints that irresistibly enticed Vajpayee ji. Atal was liberal and ‘secular’ in matters of food just as he was in politics despite being in a so called dogmatic party. Mark the laundry list for food preparations in famous New York hotel Waldorf Astoria for Atal jee when he had gone there to address UNO. The mouth watering hotel menu included Idli, Nan, Goan fish curry, prawn spice pulse, tomato chicken, chicken curry, Mushroom, Bhindi Pyaj ( lady finger onion), Paneer Chhole, scrambled egg etc.
To be precise, when up and doing (till 86 years of age), Atal jee would easily ‘digest’ even the advisory of doctors for him regarding self control in having food. And it was so when he was a diabetic too.
In matters of food, he was antitheses to his pal, L.K.Advani. Advani’s zero size food habits are regarded as reasons of him still being in pink of health. As of now, in his 90th birthday, being almost in a vegetative state, Atal’s inability to savor lip smacking eatables must be riling him.