Monday, April 21, 2014

More on Gluttons and Good Eaters

It will be easier if you read the post on Suryanarayana / Suri before coming here.  If not, please do, even after reading this.  [Click here].  I have linked him and the other eater in this post. 
Gluttons always draw attention wherever they are, even in comic books.  Gluttons need not be obese, some quote says.  Our famous character Jughead [Archie Comics] fits that bill.  I wondered how such a skinny fellow could devour so much!  There are people in real too.

And there is another, Dagwood Bumstead, in 'Blondie' which is part of the comic set in our newspaper.  He is shown as a person with extreme fondness for food!  It did not take much time for me to become a fan of Dag.

A 'gastronomer' is a connoisseur of good food or drink, probably like Bumstead, while Jughead can be seen as a glutton who has the capacity to stomach large volumes of food.  IMOHPO [in my own honest personal opinion] gluttony and gastronomy are rarely found in one individual.  But I am tempted to bracket Bumstead as "gastro-gluttonomer"!

In the Beetle Bailey comic strip [am a fan too], Sarge Snorkel is portrayed as obese.  He is another fine glutton and very fond of large amounts of food. He will eat anything, anytime any amount!!  Just the smell of food will have him rolling!  Click on this sample and read.

I grew up wondering from my elders' descriptions how Bakasura [a great devourer of food] ate food in large volumes in the 1957 mythological movie Maya Bazar [made both in Kannada and Telugu].  There were plenty of fine photography tricks in many scenes esp. in the song sequence 'Vivaaha Bhojanavidu....'.  See the following video widget.  It was screened again after many years, in 1989 at Prabhudeva Theatre and I grabbed that opportunity.

Sir George Bernard Shaw quoted in Man and Superman: "There is no love sincerer than love of food."
"Those who know the nuances of eating food will not have diseases", so goes a saying.  In Kannada it is "ಊಟ ಬಲ್ಲವನಿಗೆ ರೋಗವಿಲ್ಲ"

So much for the sundries.  

Now let me introduce our other fine eater, B.S.Seetharama Rao, also from that same timeline of the 70s.  He is also no more and lived past 85.
[I wanted to include all these in one post but the one on Suri ran long.  So I decided to split.]

He was affectionately called by all as Seetharamu and jokingly called as 'Aliya' only by my grandfather, which we also managed to call, as children, for which he would threaten to beat us.  He was a jolly good fellow we all loved.  Seetharamu's usual dress was a dhoti, a long tailed shirt and a towel on his shoulder.  He was bespectacled, wore a mustache and a pair of footwear which had tire soles.  He later began to wear a Khadi cap [photo in the end]. He was of average height, but solidly built, slightly overweight all around, not flabby, possessed huge solid palms, lovely thick fingers that revealed hard work, a robust health and a full voice.  Those who knew the art of eating would tell from those palms and fingers that he was healthy and a fantastic eater.  I got to discuss this point a decade ago with one of his sons during a wedding meal when I happened to be sitting next to him.  What prompted me was that he was also using the same technique as his father, using full palm and all five fingers to mix and to eat!  But Narasimhamurthy was not even quarter of his father's ability, but he nodded in agreement, delighted I could observe this in him!

Seetharamu was also a relative who had grown up in Mysore and moved to Bangalore later.  It will be an overstatement to bracket Seetharamu as a glutton, but he was a very good eater.   

A picture of me having a quick meal, taken some weeks before the house had to be vacated. To my right was where my grandfather, Suri and Seetharamu used to sat for the meal, cross-legged.  It was my place too when my time came. 

When Seetharamu arrived and a meal was in his programme, food had to be prepared for him in good quantity, but our daily-use utensils sufficed. When Seetharamu sat for a meal at our house, I positioned myself on the steps of our dining hall [there].  Two full courses of rice-rasam or rice-sambar whichever was made followed by the rice-buttermilk-pickle ending as a rule.  In all, three full courses was quite a quantity to imagine, but not even half of Suri's requirement. This may be an underestimation, but never mind.

I derived great joy in watching Seetharamu have his meal.  The manner was beautiful to watch.  There was an expression of satisfaction in every morsel he took in.  A little clockwise twist [I need not tell we use always the right hand to eat] of the fingers and palm picked up the mix of rice and rasam with rasam overflowing a wee bit.  That is the consistency all good eaters prefer and also advocated by Ayurveda.  At least half of the fingers entered the mouth to deliver in one quick motion before rasam dripped, producing a melodious and firm slurping sound as his eyes closed momentarily and he leaned forward to prevent excesses falling on his dhoti in his sitting [cross-legged] posture.  Suri could not lean due to the barrel tummy, so some small spills were expected.  I would rate Seetharamu better than Suri in style.  Enjoyment of eating was to be seen to be believed in both.  Unlike Suri, he ate two good full meals a day.  

 It was a real joy to watch Seetharamu getting satisfied after a meal, with a nice deep burp.  A siesta on a mat for an hour after lunch was mandatory. When he got up, coffee was ready.  My grandmother would prepare it for all. He would spend some time talking and leave when it was time.  Sometimes he also stayed overnight, which provided a chance for me to watch him eat an extra time! 

I came across more gluttons as years passed.  In my cricket team there was Prabhakar. In the workplace there was one huge barrel-like Vasudeva.  It would have been quite a match to see Suri and Vasudeva eating in competition side by side.   And then there was one Deo on whom there was a joke that when he went on leave, he would send a copy to the canteen to enable them to prepare less food that day, lest they remain unsold!  He was a regular patron in our canteen buying lots of foodstuff in one sitting, esp. breakfast.  There are also opportunist gluttons to fit another famous quote "Ever a glutton at another's cost." I cannot name them for fear of being chased away from town for this!!

Even after decades, I have not come across eaters as good as Suri and Seetharamu. But I often recall Seetharamu for all his other qualities as well. I sometimes imitate his eating style, just for the heck of it to satisfy myself. 

I was able to get this picture of Seetharamu from his grandson Mohan, for this post.  Thanks to him.

In this, he has lost his teeth and thinned down from old age.  He never missed a visit to our house even when he became old and came with a walking stick.


Gokul said...

Excellent recap, Dinu. Love your easy-to-read conversational style. Please keep writing and hope to see your posts in a mag or newspaper online soon. Best wishes - Gokul

Susan Hirneise Moore said...

You cracked me up, Dinu! I was smiling at any rste . . . then hit the line about you mimicking his manner of eating! Too funny!
Of all the people in all the world, perhaps you are the first to blog about gluttony! Quite a distinction!