Josna Rege

357. Chillies and China

In blogs and blogging, Britain, Food, India, Inter/Transnational, Stories, United States on April 5, 2016 at 12:23 am

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Blogging from A to Z  Theme: Bringing Me Joy

China: I don’t know much about china, not the kind of things collectors know, but I love coming upon beautiful pieces in church bazaars, yard sales, and thrift shops. They must be  inexpensive, in excellent condition, and, with rare exceptions (I know it’s nationalist—what to do?), made in England. Being fine bone china is an added bonus but not at all essential. I don’t collect sets or anything like that; most of what I have is one of a kind. Bringing out my favorite china cups and plates for  afternoon tea with my friends never fails to make me happy.

chillies and china

Chillies: Just looking at fresh green chillies buoys my spirits; holding them in my hands produces an ear-to-ear grin; eating them sends tears—of joy, mind you—streaming down my cheeks. I can’t get enough of them. Memories: going alone into a Bangladeshi restaurant in Brick Lane, London. Must have been the 1980s. A tumbler of cold water on each table along with a bowl of green chillies. Macho me, woman on my own, needing to prove I knew the ropes, chomped manfully into the chillies while waiting for my lunch order and tried to pretend that I didn’t need more water. Hah! More memories: going shopping in the market in Delhi, in what must have been the early 1990s. Economic liberalization hadn’t quite taken hold yet, and neither had plastic bags. When the man had filled your cloth shopping bag with vegetables, he threw in a bunch of dhaniya-patta, fresh coriander leaves, and a handful of green chillies for good measure. And in the present: when burning the midnight oil, buttered toast and Marmite with my tea is pretty sweet, but add a slice of tomato or cucumber and a few pieces of chopped green chilli and I am good to go for another couple of hours. Chillies bring me joy. I couldn’t imagine my life without them.

[For more china, see TMA #273, Everyday Use; and chillies, TMA #294, Without Whom]

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  1. Loved Chillies and China. Here in Delhi I still buy my vegetables in a cloth bag (plastic bags are banned) and the sabziwaalah does give some sprigs of dhaniya and 6-7 green chillies gratis. Next will arrange them in a pretty china bowl!!!

  2. at a future date please share photos of your china… i know just looking at them will make ME happy:) I love going through my trove now and then and using them for special friends

  3. Can I echo Jaya? We also have an eclectic selection of china, few matching, most striking, virtually none of value (even the Clarice Cliff we have — had? — is chipped).

  4. I can picture you eating that chili without asking for more water.

    Finding Eliza

  5. the most interesting use for broken china i have seen is at an army depot called lansdowne here in india. apparently in the days of porterage, a whole consignment of china fell or was dropped and broke. the broken pieces have been laid- inlaid- into a crazy floor in the main reception room!

  6. You’ve reminded me of my mother’s collection of teacups that she brought out for bridge club on Tuesday afternoons, every other month. And other times, too, of course, but I think mostly about her bridge club, 8 women talking and laughing and playing a shrewd game. I’ve always notice your china cupboard when I’ve been to your house. You have a very comforting traditional side to you.

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