A food tale to remember!

So my family is as vegetarian as it gets.

We are so vegetarian that we don’t sit on tables that have had non vegetarian diners before.

We are so vegetarian that we switch channels if the cooking show suddenly starts teaching you how to slice a duck.

We are so vegetarian that we ask the waiter if the same vessels are used to cook meat and vegetables, and then willingly believe when he says no.

On top of being vegetarian, my family is also blessed with sharp expectations out of each of its children. So you cannot be anything less than an engineer, an electronics one at that or anything less than a doctor, a cardiologist at that. 

Imagine me, a non-engineer, a non-doctor, a non-so-high-credential girl who loves to read, write and prance around --- in such a family. And now add the fact that I eat meat.

Well, you can safely assume that my life is a closely guarded secret from the rest of my family. For them, living far away in a different city, in a different part of the country, I am somebody fancy working somewhere fancy and doing something fancy. I can just pray that they never pay me a visit at my house that resembles more a war-town border town, than a well-inhabited and well-maintained home-sweet-home. And one fine day my extended family call me with much enthusiasm.

Them: Heyyyyyyyyy!!! Guess what!!!!

 Me: Heyyyy! Can’t guess!

Them: Hahaha! You, funny you!

Me: Haha! Well, me, funny me!

Them: LOL!

Me: What are you going to do?

Them: LOLOL!

Me: (pause) So, what is the surprise?

Them: Oh, right!

Me: Well?

Them: We are coming to visit you!!!!!

Me: (long pause) You are…

Them: …coming to visit you!

Me: Hey! (pause) that’s (pause) great!

Them: Isn’t it?

Me: Totally!

Them: See you in three days then!


Three days later, they are all there. Lock, stock and barrel. Bag, baggage and expectation. I spend each moment, expecting the worst. And I guess, just because of that, it does not go as bad. When I expect that they will point out my sofa is too small, they notice the little dancing doll from Cambodia. When I expect them to say my tea is too strong, they observe how I only use organic brown sugar. When I wait for them to point out that it’s strange I haven’t bought a car after so many years of working, I manage to surprise them with my chocolate brownies with roasted almonds and caramel sauce. 

On the last day of their trip, I decided to order a sumptuous meal from my favorite restaurant for all of them. Continental, Middle Eastern, Vietnamese, Japanese, nothing less than a feast worthy of queens and kings. Well, they are my guests, they cannot expect anything less than that. I expected it to look something like this:

I call up the restaurant and place a huge order with an array of items, some that I have never tasted before but come with high recommendations from the manager taking my order. Now, let me show you scene by scene how the next couple of hours unfolded.


Scene 1

(in the living room, all members of family)

Uncle: don’t you think it has been really long since the food was ordered?

Me: (knowing fully well that he is right because forty-five minutes have passed, but then it is a Saturday night and they restaurant is obviously busy) No, uncle I don’t think so…

Cousin: It has been quite while…

Me: (wanting to smack her) Only fifteen minutes.

My mom-dad: (together) That’s all?

Me: (feigning irritation) Of course!

Scene 2

(in the balcony, all members of family, anxious and hungry)

Uncle: This time it has surely been a long time.

Me: Uh, only thirty minutes.

Mom: But you said fifteen minutes, around thirty minutes ago.

Me: (can’t even smack my own mom) Not really.

Dad: Do you want to check with them?

Aunty: You should call them.

Cousin: You want to use my mobile phone?

Me: I have my own mobile phone!

Scene 3

(on the door, the delivery boy and me)

He seems to realize he is late and hence is avoiding my gaze. The tension is the living room is at a peak and I cannot afford to waste time shouting at him, though I would love to, with all my heart. So I snatch the order, make the payment and bolt towards the living room. Just then something catches my fancy.

There is something off with the food. It does not smell like how it is supposed to. rather than a herb / plant like aroma, it has a skin like aroma. I instantly know what’s wrong.

I run to the door and thankfully the delivery boy is just about to hop onto his scooter. I literally scream. The delivery boy has a puzzled look on his face.

“Are you sure this is vegetarian?”

“Um, hum, er, yes madam.”

“This has a meaty look and smell.”

“Um, well, hmm, this is…. Lebanese, madam.”

“Does it have a name?”

“Um, I seem to have forgotten madam.”

By now the people in the room are collectively emanating hungry sounds louder than the sirens of a textile factory. Since I took so long in ordering a so called exotic meal for them, since this is their first visit to my house, since they already think I’m slightly useless, I have to do something. NOW.

So I accept the order.

Scene 4

(in the living room, all members of family)

There is an eerie silence in the room. The wrappers were torn off the food, the packets were passed around like gold, people didn’t even wait for cutlery as they began gobbling up the contents. And then the reality had hit them. I had expected the food to look something like this:

But it looked something like this:

Cousin: (after a really really really long pause) This does not seem like vegetarian.

Me: (Now I will surely smack her when her everyone is asleep) Of course it does.

Mom: (elbowing me) Are you are?

Me: Sigh.

I call the restaurant people. And the drama starts again....

“Are you sure this is vegetarian?

“Of course, madam.”


This instance is certainly my worst food fix story. The collective hunger of my extended family sat on me heavy as I wanted to kill myself and bury my body under the living room sofa. It could be many things. Either the heavy Saturday crowd that made them mix up the order. Or my anxiety at wanting to please the family that made me order some random stuff. Either the excitement in trying new things. Or a general concoction of bad luck who knows.

To summarize what happened next: well, the same cousin who loved playing the devil's advocate, turned out to be my savior. She suggested something called the Tiny Owl app, as everyone sat around morose and hungry. 

Thankfully I had the choice of selecting a restaurant that delivered in the time I wanted, because the app told me exactly how long I would have to wait.

On top of that, I could filter on exactly what I wanted and make it an exotic order if I wanted (again)...

There was no way in hell I was taking a chance (or could afford to take a chance) with what I was ordering so I loved the fact that I could read descriptions of what I was ordering much before! 

The food was delivered according to the descriptions and the delivery times promised. Of course I was (again) the butt of jokes in the family, but I really was not complaining. After ordering a disaster the first time, and making everyone wait for soooo long, this is the most courteous thing they could do to me! Since I was already very jittery from my previous order, I kept bugging the helpline, and found the Tiny Owl customer team to be very friendly and helpful. It is really quite a helpful resource for food lovers. You can download it here for Android or here for Apple

And guess what, if you invite your friends to the app you get free meals!

(Thanks Indiblogger for introducing me to Tiny Owl! Pictures courtesy: Pixabay)


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