A Culinary Legacy, An Ode To That Rolex Oyster
My granddad was gifted a Rolex Oyster and he gave it to his son. In those days the only place to get a Rolex repaired was in Switzerland so it was given to a friend of a friend who was travelling to Switzerland. Dad passed away shortly afterwards and the Rolex disappeared. But the memories remain of dad and the watch, and the fun we had eating out… and that’s what takes me down a timeless road.
What is it about watches and me? The childhood dream was not a fantasy, as I grew up with my first HMT watch gifted to me one fine Christmas morning it came with a stocking filled with candied oranges and edible goodies. That watch stood proud in time through school and hours of fiddling with it endlessly while eating munchies and tamarind from the cart. That HMT ran itself well till it grew too small for one’s wrist and still ticks upon my mum’s wrist quite fondly. Time pieces of mine have since moved from the trustworthy Titan to a glorious Seiko picked up in Hong Kong on a trip. That watch is such a delight that I remember the night markets of Hong Kong eating crabs and fish freshly cooked on the street side while trying to show off my glitzy new watch to anyone who cared to notice.
The Italian-made watch of late lies on my wrist proudly – an emotional competition to the Titan given by a friend which is all smart and black against my Chef whites. Then there is the all-chrome SEIKO proudly worn during my photoshoots (you can see it in most pics, I make sure you can!). I have one for every occasion, as each dazzles in its box waiting to be chosen for the day ahead when every food shot in the studio has to be completed against a time frame. So I time it in style.
Yet through it all, the memories, the food, it is the monsoon that brings the strongest of memories. The memories of hot cheese samosas and sticky noodles while sitting in front of the television set. What revolves in the background on the Tv set is the legacy that is Wimbledon lying resplendent in the advertisements of the Rolex. The great Bjorn Borg to the brilliant Chris Evert Lloyd, Roger Federer and the symbol of the Rolex standing proud for all to see. The posters shine of celebrities wearing a fine watch and I imagine myself in chef togs and coat proudly showing off a Rolex on my wrist. It’s come to mean a symbol of professionalism and not status; it stands for class and of a hope and a dream.
As one churns up food in one’s daily life or designs new culinary ideas, one is reminded of time and its fleeting moments. The years pass in a blur of culinary perfections and some not-so-famous. Time doesn’t leave out the disappointments of a certain type which have come by one’s life only to make one’s fervour stronger. Time stands still as one feeds thousands – known and not-yet-known – only to become a fleeting moment to stand pictured on a wall as well recorded or stamped in time.
As time records the way decades of culinary styles change, the comfort foods and the days of fast mindless food is churned out to a time of classy food. One comes to a stage in life where one has to move beyond this rush for feeding people. The sense that life is short and one has to make the most of one’s talents. A singular talent has no place in this day and age, building upon a story of precision and technique in one’s work and remembering that everyone is just given 24 hours and what we do with it is what counts.
Its father time and his grey beard that pushes us all through life to do what we do on his terms, and the goal is to do one’s best. Respect time and the memories, mould the future well and hold on to the memories, for yesterday is over and tomorrow is unknown. The certainty of today and the silent ticking of that inbuilt clock.
Having grown up in a time of rich cheeses, oysters and caviar has been a privilege. Mussels saved in brine and pate on bread, to the in-thing and foreign flavours and ingredients; the seasons have changed with time and travel. The new foods from foreign lands lend their flavours to local cuisines from slowly changing one’s approach to looking at food. At the same time, returning to one’s roots is a trend that is much required and much appreciated these days. It seems we are turning back the clock of time. From a world that seemed so perfect in youth, untouched by the world and what was going around, to the fast march of mankind and the changes in the way we eat and think are all reflected and preserved in time.
Is time so immortal! I wonder, as I sit back and ponder and gaze at the clock that stands on the stands of Roland Garros and Wimbledon. The legacy has begun and the culinary baton passed on, age catches up and like the seconds hand we move on. The perfection moves to another phase, the eternal legacy of time ticks on, and on and on creating timeless memories.