Years ago, a friend of mine had a rather interesting temperament. An otherwise level-headed, balanced individual, he would at times display traits that were entirely out of character. Most days during evenings he would be cranky, irritated and rather unpleasant.
Unfortunately, it just so happened that at around this hour his tutor was scheduled to arrive, which needless to say only made matters worse. The cook at his house, bless his kind soul, was well acquainted with his master's nature, and would dutifully present before him a plate full of cheesy, creamy Pasta Alfredo, complete with a side of French fries and a tall glass of Tang.
As my friend wolfed down the pasta and drank the Tang in one swig, his mood improved rapidly and his calm, collected disposition returned. Till date this change of mood still takes place, and these days his wife, without missing a beat, serves him his evening snack of Pasta and Tang happily so he can keep calm and carry on!
Food is an amazing thing. The most delicious dishes can melt the stony-hearted puritans, bring enemies together and can forge relationships between strangers. It is a fact universally known that food has an immediate and lasting effect on our moods. Certain tastes, smells and sights are comforting, while others entice, seduce and satiate.
A steaming bowl of chicken soup will do wonders for a person down with flu, while a pizza oozing with cheese and juicy slices of salami will entice unashamedly. There are many reasons behind this phenomenon. Human beings tend to associate smells and tastes with memory, and certain things eaten on particular occasions tend to trigger those memories.
Also, good food generally gives a sense of well-being and satisfaction. We tend to be happier and relaxed on days when lunch was delicious and filling, and the reverse occurs when a meal isn't stellar. It has a direct effect on our mood; a person is likely to work more happily and efficiently if the meal they have had was a satisfactory one.
There are many dishes that have a positive outcome on our mood or vice versa. A simple meal of 'bhaat, daal and maach or mangsho' is most Bengalis’ idea of comfort food. Simple, home cooked and satiating, there is not anything quite like it.
Khichuri comes a close second, and so does 'ruti bhaaji.' For some a bowl of soup or a plate of pasta does the trick. Comfort food instantly lifts one's mood, making one happy and full. Biryanis and pilaf make one feel festive and jovial, and chicken roast and korma adds to the spirit of celebration.
On the other hand, serving fish to someone who hates fussing with bones is likely to have the reverse effect! Also, food that is too hot, spicy or garlicky might turn things sour. Interesting snacks and desserts served at dinner parties will excite and enlighten your guests, earning you five stars for innovation and fresh thinking.
Oysters and strawberries, known for their famed aphrodisiac qualities, will most likely seduce the special one in your life, making you feel loved! Last but not the least, your morning cuppa makes you feel alive and productive, charging you up to take on the challenges of the day.
Food has a direct effect on our moods and overall dispositions to a great extent. We may have been schooled to think that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, but in reality with the right food, a way can be found to anyone's heart!
Photo: Star Lifestyle Archive/ Sazzad Ibne Sayed