Food for the mind and the body: Countdown 365/6 [Jan. 9, 2012]

Food for thought: School isn’t just about education and Education isn’t just about employment

It was Louis Braille’s 203rd birth anniversary yesterday, and a Bangalore-based charitable trust celebrated it with competitions for the differently-abled. There were singing competitions for children with orthopaedic disabilities, fancy dress competitions for the mentally challenged and reading-braille and writing-braille competitions for children with visual handicaps. Elsewhere in the city, an educational institute brought together children, their parents, and their grandparents through a kite-flying festival. The elders re-lived their youth by teaching the excited children how to make kites and how to fly them: a simple joy that is no more part of growing up for children living in crowded cities.

And a good education is not merely an instrument for employment, nor is it an assurance of the same. In Amid Economic Strife, Greeks Look to Farming Past – NYTimes.com, Mr. Kaloupis says: ’We invented civilization, and we’ll take it back… If the Greek economy really plummets beyond repair, ‘I will take the rock in my hand and squeeze it, and from the water that comes out of it, I’ll make pilaf to feed my daughter. We’ll manage.’ Elsewhere in the same newspaper [Haiti Can Be Rich Again – NYTimes.com], two academics from Duke urge Haiti to ‘look to the past, and the system of small farms’ to end its caricaturisation as the ‘poorest nation in the western hemisphere.’

Food for the palate: Pongal: A complete rice and green gram health dish

Heat 4 tablespoons ghee in a pressure pan. When hot, add a heaped teaspoon of coarsely ground black pepper, a heaped teaspoon of coarsely ground cumin seeds, a pinch asafoetida, 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger, and, optionally, 2 teaspoons dried, dessicated coconut [copra]. Stir the spices for a second, add 4-5 ounces of water, and when it boils, 1 ounce of split green gram [optionally roasted in a dry pan till it gives off a nice aroma] and 3 ounces of raw rice. Add ½ a teaspoon of turmeric powder and salt to taste. Close pressure pan and cook till done. Mash well to mesh well! Eat hot. Goes well with a variety of side dishes: from plain curds, chutney, sambar or pickles to sugar or jaggery.

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