Even to my 5 year old eyes – the stalls looked dirty.
But even in the flickering light of the single hurricane that lit up the grubby stalls – the joy on the faces of the people eating at the stall was unmistakable.
But was I allowed near that fountain of joy? No. And that was a very emphatic – no – from my parents.
The rules about golgappa stalls were non-negotiable in my house.
To my parents – these stalls and the golgappas they served – were nothing more than hotbeds of disease causing germs and as the caretakers of our health and well-being they were not going to be swayed by aromas, flavours or their children’s pleading faces.
So I was a rebellious teenager – when I finally tasted the forbidden golgappas.And were they yummy? They were exquisite – mouth-watering – just simply amazing.
But as my mouth watered – my heart beat faster too. I knew I was playing with fire. With every bite – I was swallowing large doses of disease causing organisms.
Even with rebellion raging in my head - I was scared - and with good reason.
It was dangerous to eat at those unhygienic stalls - and the danger of falling sick – ensured that my rebellion was short lived.
The memory of the flavours however lingered.
Eight years ago – with the arrival of my daughter – I plunged into parenthood.
Golgappa stalls? I wouldn’t even let my daughter look at them – I was that paranoid.
But I felt guilty too. I was depriving her – I had to admit. Depriving her of a taste that she was sure to love.
I tried to recreate the same flavour at home. But my attempts at recreating the authentic golgappa flavours in the kitchen - unfortunately– were far short of perfect.
Then one day packaged golgappa pani caught my eye as I walked into a departmental store. I blinked and then blinked again.
“Yooohooo” – was what I wanted to scream.
Yesssss!!! the forbidden food – had been stamped with a seal of safety. Now I could indulge my family with the flavours I so wanted them to experience – without worrying about them falling sick.
I bought the small packs at first - but seeing how much my family loved the taste - I soon switched to the 1 litre pack - packaged by Tetra Pak
When I took on the mantle of Safe Food Ambassador for Tetra Pak this year – I had a chance to visit their factory in Chakan near Pune.
I hadn’t expected it – but found that they have a whole wing dedicated to product innovation – where they are constantly working towards packaging more and more such things in their marvelous packaging material – so that they can take worry off the minds of Moms like me. It is their everyday endeavor that we worry a little less about our kids falling sick - even as we allow them to experience the wonderful taste of things that are typically Indian.
Now I am looking forward to having packaged sugarcane juice. It is something I haven’t tasted for years now – because I am terrified of Typhoid and Hepatitis.
I am sure their team will have it on the shelves soon.
Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay Tetra Pak!!!