I’m still reading The Raj at Table by David Burton and the following really struck a chord and gave me a laugh:
The ‘everlasting murghi’ – roasted, grilled, boiled, stewed, hashed, minced, cutleted or curried – appeared on the table week after week with such monotony that for years after leaving India some British retained an aversion to chicken in any form. A standing Anglo-Indian joke told of the Englishman who returned home after a ten-year sojourn in the East, and at every relation he visited was regaled with roast chicken!
Oh, so true! Having spent several years “in the East” I can vouch for it still being the case to this very day. I guess it’s partly true these days because when you are having to cater for a diverse group of people – where Hindus won’t eat beef and Muslims won’t eat pork – chicken is perceived as a safe bet. But, oh, it’s so tedious.
Some years ago, I was interviewing a person for the position of maid/housekeeper, and she was very proud to tell me that she could also cook. “Oh,” I said, pleasantly surprised and anticipating the possibility of learning from her how to make some delicious curries, “what can you cook?”
“Sicken tikka, sicken shashlik, sicken curry, butter sicken, sicken kebabs, sicken biryani, sicken jalfrezi, sicken sagwala…”
“But I don’t like chicken,” I replied.
She looked at me dumbfounded.
“Can you cook anything that’s not chicken?”
I looked at her dumbfounded.
Well, she got the job for a while but her cooking skills weren’t required. Later, we had a little guy (literally – I don’t think he could’ve been much over four feet) who was passed on to us by a Chinese woman (who was married to a Scotsman) and he was great! He could do just about everything, even cooking if required, she had trained him so well. He was the best housekeeper we’ve ever had.