Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Food Fads

People coming here for summer or winter period develop all kinds of food fads in Antarctica. The Indian station, Maitri, has practically all varieties of food suiting every taste. I was surprised to find 'gur' (jaggery) here, though, it does not enjoy any popularity. I am its lone consumer. When ship comes here every December/January, it brings loads of food supplies to last till next one year. However, fresh fruits and vegetables last only for a few months and then it is all frozen stuff. Since the working area, living area, kitchen and dinning area, and lounge all are situated in proximity to one another, people help themselves any number of times with whatever they fancy to eat or drink. Most people go back with some gain in weight, some as much as 25 kg in one year. The members of 26th IAE, winterers, who are now waiting to return to India in mid-February, have not put any worthwhile weight. No one looks obese. However, weight gain is clearly apparent in the members of 27th IAE who have arrived here just six weeks ago. As per their own confessions, some had put on as much as 5 kg within a month.

Current fads among many members of 26 Team are maggie noodles and eggs. They are now sick of eating frozen vegetables and daal (lentils) for last many months. So you frequently see them boiling maggie noodles or frying eggs. Packaged fruit juices still remain popular with most of the members. They all believe it provides quality vitamins. So they consume it 3-5 times a day. They are oblivious of the effects of preservatives, chemicals or sugar in it. Most of them have a habit of drying their paratha or poori with tissue before consuming; it is another matter that they would later put pure ghee on their chapaati or in daal.

Many members of the 27th team help themselves with large helpings of butter, ghee, fruit juices and ice cream. They are also quite fond of non-veg preparations. I am a bit surprised that out of 25 members of 27th Team, only 2 of us are vegetarians.

What are my food habits here? Well, when I landed here in mid-November, I thought that I am in an extremely difficult area and I should remain healthy and not fall ill. My body resistance should be at its optimum level and to achieve that I should not lack in any essential nutrients. So I also started consuming things that I normally would not consume in Delhi, e.g., bourn vita, complan, maltova, packaged fruit juices etc. Fortunately, good sense prevailed and I have given up on these already. My fad for honey remains which I take every morning and sometimes in the afternoon too with yoghurt. We have plenty of roasted black grams (chick peas) here. I have managed Ram Das to grind it for me to make sattu powder out of it to which recently I have started adding gur. I take it with my breakfast. And of course I remain steadfast on my taking haldi-milk post dinner.

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