I just had to have some fun with the title. But more on that in a little bit :)
I'm back to base after an almost two week vacation in which I went to the hills, saw wild elephants, stayed in British era cottages with a functioning fireplace (please be jealous :), met a dear friend after two & a half years, lusted over the wooden flooring in her house, visited my parents, had yummy food and did the only thing I wish I wouldn't have had to do - participate in the Durga Puja at home. But then it's all about respecting your parents' sentiments, isn't it?
The highlight of the trip was that I got the opportunity to do what I thought could only have been done in the world of Jane Austen and Emily Bronte - sitting in front of a burning fireplace with a book and a mug of hot chocolate. BLISSSSS! :)
Talking of Durga Puja, no one celebrates the festival quite the way Calcutta does. I've come to realize that I share a love-hate relationship with Calcutta. The city is dirty and mindblowingly polluted, yet it exudes an old-world charm. At times I love the fact that Calcuttans have held on tightly to their culture be it music, literature, language, cinema or food. At other times, I detest the same thing - they can get so possessive about their culture/language that they look down upon other cultures and languages. They're also not very open to new cuisines and experiences.
I love that life in Calcutta is not as hectic as in Bombay (though I do like the pace and vibe of Bombay), but it's also extremely laidback. There's no initiative to get things done. Two & a half years later, it still bothers me.
Then there are some things I'm grateful for - life is very convenient in this city and more importantly, Calcutta is safe for women.
Anyway, coming back to the title of the post and to Jimmy. Jimmy was a Parsi contestant on Masterchef Australia, my current favorite show on TV. But before I talk about Jimmy, I want to say that I absolutely love the hosts of the show - George Canalis, Gary Mehigan & Matt Preston. George is a cutie pie, Gary is suave and fatherly at the same time, and Matt is hilarious in his sometimes-yellow-sometimes-red pants. And though they are not experts in Indian cuisine, they can jolly well tell the difference between Mangalorean and Chettinad style of cooking! R.E.S.P.E.C.T.
So, yesterday Jimmy got eliminated after a very tough challenge where they had to replicate a celebrity chef's seafood platter within 2 hours. A number of sea animals (is that what they're called?) had to be cooked simultaneously, including something called 'sea urchins' that I saw for the first time and whose roe is ironically a delicacy is Japanese cuisine. None of the fish could be under/over cooked.
To be honest, Jimmy wasn't Masterchef material though he did come quite far in the competition. He was good with Indian food but often stumbled in invention tests that revolved around cuisines of other countries. In fact, though he was the only Indian-born of the lot, he was beaten by an Australian (Jonathan) in the Indian invention test!
Yet, there was something endearing about Jimmy. He was always smiling and though he'd get stressed easily, I never saw him break down, unlike a lot of other contestants.
My assessment of him aside, the fact that he got so far on the show (he was among the last 13 or so) and got in to an elimination challenge only twice must mean that he is a good cook. But then, elimination challenges in MC Australia are totally unpredictable - it's about that one invention test/team challenge day. It's about whether you're having a good day. Some of the best cooks in there have found themselves staring at an elimination challenge multiple times.
It was sad to see Jimmy leave but I thought he got the best advice he could get from the judges of the show. They asked him to focus on this strength - spices. I guess he took the advice to heart as he's now developing his own range of simmering sauces and marinades. I bet they're going to be Indian influenced. Good on you, Jimmy.