Do you ever have that moment when you’re blissfully scrolling through your social media feed and end up seeing something so utterly revolting you would give anything to rewind to just a few seconds ago when you hadn’t subjected yourself to that horror? Because I just had that moment today, when I saw the newest flavour of ice cream in town: Chyawanprash. Yes, you read it right: Chyawanprash Ice Cream! Created by one of the top ice cream brands in south India, Dairy Day, this one’s a part of their line of “immunity-boosting flavours”, which also includes *drum roll* Haldi (turmeric) flavoured ice cream.
If you were a kid belonging to a middle-class Indian household, you would know breakfasts always consisted of one spoon of Chyawanprash. You could skip the dry fruits, or even the milk if you were in a hurry to catch the school bus, but with Chyawanprash, there was no leeway. As Vir Das said in his Netflix comedy special, no one knows what exactly it is made of, but when you eat it, you somehow just end up magically feeling healthy. I personally never got around to being okay with its jam-like texture and sweet-sour taste. But there is just something about it that brings back bittersweet memories of early school mornings.
Regardless of whatever sentiment I attach to Chyawanprash, to see it taint my even lovelier memories of ice cream really hurts. But I guess people love to experiment and there's nothing I can do about it, so I decided to let this one go.
Until I somehow ended up diving deeper and found food combinations that should genuinely not be legal under any costs: Oreo bhajiya, Chocolate Maggi and Oreo ice cream samosa. And I really was lost for words, because why the fuck would you do that? What makes you think this was a good idea? Luckily, people on the internet felt the same too.
And while the internet is a weird place filled with people doing weirder things, this probably hits harder because it's people experimenting with things you've got memories attached to. Some people love to experiment, and probably do find joy in their creations. Good for them. But others are just products born out of desperation and hunger, and well you gotta do what you gotta do.
Then why do these odd combinations hurt so much? It is not entirely as if these food combinations are scientifically incompatible—like some foods actually are. It is just that messing around with them feels like messing around with our memories. Memories like that of eating piping hot Maggi while watching the heavy downpour outside, or licking the creams out of Oreo biscuits and sticking them back together, or waiting for guests to leave so you could pounce on leftover bhajiyas and pakodas. Nostalgia is a powerful feeling, and seeing people not treat with respect what you associate with sweet summer joys of childhood can sting a little.
And I'd blame it on the lockdown that is making people resort to this, even though we truly love to experiment and have been doing it for ages. Case in point, some even weirder combinations: Chyawanprash Samosa, and Gulab Jamun Pizza. But in a world where everything is changing and is new, I beg you to let my familiar food just be.
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