Spice of Life

Alamelu Vairavan, a Whitefish Bay resident, is an author and culinary instructor. Alamelu has a passion for educating the public about the use of spices and legumes in preparing healthy and tasty foods. She is also interested in educating the public about the growing research that points to the enormous health benefits of spices in preventing many diseases. Her mission is to enrich people's culinary experience and to inspire them to discover that cooking and sharing healthful foods can be an especially joyful experience.

Visit Alamelu's web site, CurryOnWheels.com.

A Farm-Fresh Homecoming!

I had a wonderful October in 2010, first with my participation in Food and Dine Wisconsin Event in our beautiful city of Milwaukee, followed by my participation in the Annual Kohler Food and Wine Experience in beautiful Kohler, WI. Both events were so memorable. Meeting people from the community in the first event and then meeting people from Illinois, Minneapolis, New York, California in the Kohler event was an exhilarating experience for me.

My cooking presentations at both events were well attended and people were very excited to learn about healthful Indian flavors. The marketing team at the Journal-Sentinel did a fantastic job in celebrating and recognizing our own talents here in Milwaukee. Chefs, authors, wine and cheese experts were all featured in this amazing two day event at the Frontier Airlines Center. Thanks to David Wise and Becky Steimle of the Journal-Sentinel for organizing such an event celebrating Milwaukee. It was a demonstration of great community spirit.

At Kohler my cooking presentation titled, "A Symphony of Indian Flavors"  was a sold out event. The participants were enthusiastic and eager to learn about the amazing flavors. A wine expert Jim Donato from Rodney Strong Wine Estates talked about the wine that could be paired with the food that I prepared. Kyle Cherek, the lively host of Wisconsin Foodie TV program, introduced me and was an active participant during my presentation. For a few days, Kohler was transformed to the Napa Valley of the Midwest. I was proud to be featured with Joe Bartolotta. I met Joe and his wife. He gave a hug and said that I was doing a good job spreading healthful cooking to the public. I was touched by the compliment of this great chef.

After all these and some other local events in October, my husband and I decided it was time to take a short break for a few days in a warmer climate. So, we decided to go to Scottsdale, AZ for a four day visit. The day before our departure, I did not feel well. But I thought I would go and rest in Scottsdale, Arizona.

It was only a three hour flight. We arrived in Phoenix, rented a car and arrived at our destination. Now I had the chills and a fever. That evening I was dizzy and felt more feverish. The following day my husband, and our son, who had joined us from Atlanta, decided to take me to a nearby hospital. I was admitted to their new wing in the hospital as a first in-patient! I felt like I inaugurated this hospital unit. My fever was high but as I looked out the window and saw how beautiful and sunny it was, my spirit rose and I was eager to go home. But I had to remain in the hospital for two days.

During the course of my hospital stay, many pain medications were given to me. I am a person who does not like to gulp pills. But when you are in pain, you need to take them. The hospital food was barely satisfactory. I ate only cream of wheat cereals and fresh strawberries for all three meals. Soon after I was admitted, I was dreaming about my home cooked delicious meal. Following my discharge from my grueling stay at the hospital, I rested for a day in Scottsdale, and then flew back to Milwaukee. So much for our little get-away. I was grateful that I was basically healthy and it was exhaustion, dehydration, and fever that had sent me to the hospital.

Upon our return to Milwaukee on Friday evening, my husband kept saying I must rest completely at least for a week. I agreed. On Saturday, however, I said to him, "Please take me to Fondy's Farmer's Market. He said, "What?"  I said I wanted to go to Farmer's market and I wanted to touch and feel the fresh vegetables and talk to the wonderful farmers and that the trip will uplift my body and spirit. He could not believe it. Finally he agreed to take me to the Farmer's market. The farm fresh vegetables, herbs and fruits were all like God's food to me. The farmers looked like angels with amazing powerful, vibrant wonderful healing foods for me. I picked lots of vegetables for less than $10.00!!   My husband wondered if I was well enough to cook these vegetables. I said ,"yes"  and told him that cooking the fresh vegetables will be therapeutic for me. Also when we stopped at the Whitefish Bay Sendiks to complete grocery shopping, I bought irresistible and luscious pomegranates for only  99 cents each. I thought I was dreaming.

I came home after shopping. I took a fresh bunch of Swiss chard, washed and chopped it. I cooked the chards with coarsely ground, steamed yellow split peas and garnished it with fresh coconut. I felt like it has all the nutrients that my body needed to flush out the medicine from my body. I also made a lentil based cauliflower soup garnished with cilantro. I cooked some jasmine rice and a Thai eggplant in a tamarind seasoned sauce. It was divine! No match for home-cooked food, I thought.

It was just the right food I needed after gulping strong medications in the hospital. It was a healing food. My digestive health is so much better and now I am on a road to speedy and complete recovery from my ordeal. I thank those wonderful farmers who bring the very best fresh produce to us for such a bargain price. I felt I had a wonderful farm-fresh homecoming!

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