Not everyone is a professional food critic, or a book critic (although, with media tools like Goodreads, where we are encouraged to write book reviews to our hearts’ content, it is difficult NOT to feel like we are!) so when we feel like going to a good place to eat or when we feel like settling down to read a good book, we get a little lost as to how and what to choose. We are also, at times, not aware what we are eating is worth the praise or the book we are reading is good enough? You must be thinking, what’s the big deal, if the food is finger-licking tasty, then that’s it! Of course, the greatest parameter of judging is always..whether YOU enjoy it or not. It’s not ‘what’s currently popular’ all the time, believe me! But then, you are not always sure that the seemingly tasty food you just had is not going to play any tricks on your stomach later on. It’s important to know which ingredients went into the dish to make it so tasty. It’s important to, thus, be familiar with the ‘know-how’ of things. Being a little more aware can not only help you save time and money but also take care of your health and mind.
Similarly, in order to read, apart from the selection of genre, there is this dilemma of whether what I am reading is going to broaden my horizon in any way? Am I reading something ground-breaking or just mediocre? There are times we need certain pointers that could help us in determining whether or not what we eat or what we read is actually good and worth appreciation. I’ve tried to come up with such pointers here- they are handy, and you do not need to be a pro in the department of gastronomy or a literary genius to grasp these:
- You know when you are reading a good book-
- When the writing is effortless. When you are at your 4th or 5th page and it seems the words have risen out of
the book and transformed into a motion picture’s scene right in front of your eyes smoothly and effortlessly. It should be the most natural thing to happen when you read. Its like you are going around with a visionary balloon that is two-ended; one is hitched to the book and the other one to your head. The balloon goes around wherever the book goes, and wherever you go. If there is any disruption in the scene, that means, there is something wrong with the writing. Either that, or you are unable to comprehend the meaning! 😛 In that case, Hello Miss. Dictionary!
- Some people think it’s the fact that we are able to relate to any of the characters or to the story itself, but that comes second. If that does happen, then guess who shows up? EMOTIONS! Yup, be it any kind, not always joy, no no, in fact, quite many times, it is our childhood memories (nostalgia), or the struggle in our lives (physical or emotional), pain, achievements, disappointments, or our fantasies! That is when we CONNECT to the book. We feel we have a part of ourselves in that book. In order to make all of this happen, the plot and narration should be spot-on.
- If you are beginning to gain interest in the book, look up the author’s name on the internet. It always helps to build a bridge between you and the author by knowing more about him/her. Go through the life history of the author in brief, and you’ll know if the plot is (fully or in parts) autobiographical. Also check whether there are other books/poetry/short stories written by the same author, then you practically have your ‘to-read’ list ready!
You know when you are eating good food at a good place:
- OK, these pointers are not for the time when you are going out simply to meet your huge, loud gang of friends for boozing and partying and being content with (or too drunk to care! :P) gorging down your share of paneer tikkas and chicken lollipops! 😛 These tips are for ‘enjoying the whole experience’ of tasteful eating. When you go to these places, as you wait to be seated, its the waiters of that place that make or break the experience. It is very important for the waiters to be well-informed about the food and the menu. In fact, they should know the menu like the back of their hands. When asked to suggest a good so-and-so dish, they should do it in a friendly, warm, non-intimidating way. Sadly, many restaurants suffer from the problem of having great food but bad waiters. Their body language suggests lack of interest either in the food or in the people they are waiting upon. In the long-run, it won’t get the restaurant much success.
- Once your food is on the table, you know its absolutely heavenly, when you can literally taste the various ingredients of that dish. All of the flavors complement each other to bring out the exquisite complete taste of that dish. It’s like, in one, bite, you can practically see each and every ingredient’s role if the dish is cooked properly. On the other hand, you know when a dish is bad; like a badly made red-sauce pasta. Most of the time I have tasted a red-sauce pasta with the sauce’s flavor being too strong, and all I could taste was TOMATO TOMATO- one single ingredient overpowering and ruining the whole dish. Sadness!
- Lastly, you can, with practice, know when the food is freshly made, its when it is not soggy when it should actually be crispy, and when it does not leave an after-taste of oil, ghee, or rotten cheese on your tongue. Because stale food is usually the food that was fully-made and then re-fried or re-heated. Freshly made food, however big in calories, will settle in your stomach with ease and you won’t feel like you have swallowed logs!
Hope these simple tips are useful to you.
Book lovers- Happy reading!
Food lovers- Happy eating!