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Sydney, Australia
My musings and meanderings on childhood - mine juxtaposed with that of my kids'. Everyday incidents and images from our life in Sydney turn my thoughts towards my own wonder years growing up in Bandra, Bombay, India.

19 June 2013

Vege (under the) table

C2 checking out the corn at the Veggie Garden in our local park
Made a Bill Granger recipe of Chicken, Eggplant and Cherry Tomatoes for dinner last night. While the chicken went down a treat, C1 and C2 refused to eat their veggies.
"Finish your vegetables," I kept admonishing them.
“Do you ever wonder if you’re starting to sound like your mother...?" asked B.

Well, if the truth be told, my mum NEVER forced my brother and me to eat our vegetables.
In fact, she could be accused of aiding and abetting my crimes against greens.

Living in our D'monte Street cottage was my Nana Evelyn, my dad's eldest brother, Uncle Chris and his family, and my dad and his family. Nana Evelyn, the matriarch of the Pereira Clan, ruled over her household with a loving but firm hand. When she laid down the law, you had jolly well obey.

Usually, dinner was at 9pm (remember, this is India; 9pm is relatively early for dinner!) after the family rosary.

While the kids laid the table, my mum and my aunt Cissy got dinner piping hot. Nana sat at the centre of the table (opposite the altar) and each brother's family sat on either side of her. I can clearly remember this table with its Formica table top and extendable sides that were pulled out to accommodate all ten of us. After Grace was said, dinner was served. It usually comprised of a main dish (mostly a meat curry), a side dish of pulses or vegetables, and melt-in-your-mouth chappatis.

Vegetables from our Farmers' Markets - minus the gavar!

Now, at the best of times, I was a fussy eater. And when it came to vegetables, almost all of them were vetoed. Ladyfingers (okra) and brinjal (eggplant)? Too sticky.
Bitter gourd (karela) and radish? Too bitter.
Pumpkin? Too orange.
You get the picture...

But my ‘least favourite’ of them all was a vegetable called 'gavar'. I don't even know what it's called in English and, thank God, we don't get it here in Sydney.
These beans were skinnier than green beans and were cooked with freshly grated coconut. Despite its sweet taste, I disliked gavar with a passion.

So my six- or seven-year-old self concocted a plan to get rid of the gavar every time it was dished up... While the family chatted about this and that, I would surreptitiously chuck the gavar vegetable under the dining table, little by little.

Unbeknownst to everyone (myself included), my mum was fully aware of her daughter's diabolical scheme. But rather than tell on me, and let me face the fire and brimstone that my Dad and Nana were sure to unleash, mum kept mum.

Once the household had gone to bed, she would sweep away all traces of evidence from the crime scene...
Thanks, mum!

So whenever I complain to my mum about C & C not eating their veggies, she promptly reminds me of my vege(under the)table misdemeanours.

So tell me, is there any food you flat-out refuse to eat (even today)? Do you ‘disguise’ vegetables when cooking for your kids? Did you have strict parents or grandparents?


  1. ahhh, you funny girl! bec santos x

    1. Unfortunately, it's all true, Bec!
      Do M & L eat their veggies? C1 will try anything at least once, but C2 - if he doesn't like the look of something, there's no way he's gonna try it.
      How's the bread making going?

  2. I refused to eat chops of any sort though only beef chops were served. I was made to eat a few mouthfuls and used to gag. I STILL don't like beef chops and won't even cook them for others (probably why hubby will order a T.Bone when out).
    Routinely veges are disguised in the kids food. Pumpkin, sweet potato, eggplant, zucchini, carrot, onions are often in their meatballs and pasta dishes. They don't realise that their pasta sauce actually has about 6 roasted vegetables in it or their chicken meatballs are 50% veges. Most days I don't sweat it knowing how fussy I was as a child - things change.

    1. Joc, I've known you for over 7 years but had no idea about your 'chop phobia'! Must see what you order on our next Mums' dinner... which is tonight! Yay!
      Yeah, I do the whole shebang when it comes to disguising veggies in meals too.

  3. Hehe that's so interesting that your mum knew! I never liked chicken meat, only the skin so I used to hide it under my napkin! :P

    1. What can I say? My mum was a darling - and still is! Chicken skin? Now that's another thing I'm not so keen on. Or - brace yourself - pork crackling.


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