One of my favorite stories from South Asia is about a man who came to a language seminar with us. It was a small group and we were delving into grammar. If memory serves me correctly, I had a four year old and a two year old at the time. And the meeting room was my living room.
The plan, of course, was for the meals to be eaten at restaurants so that I could focus on grammar and not cooking. But generally speaking, South Asian men are very fussy about their food. When David announced the lunch plans, this particular man looked me straight in the eye and said, "Actually, I prefer home foods."
This was a veiled yet strong way of saying, "A proper hostess would cook for me. Go get in that kitchen!"
Being the blunt American that I am, I looked him straight back and said, "Trust me when I tell you, you don't prefer my "home foods" today."
They promptly left for lunch.
Since that day, the term "home foods" has become a recurring joke in our house. I use the phrase all the time with a lot of laughter....but to my neighbors, it's no joke. These people are serious about their food. Someone told me recently that they enjoyed their stay in the US but that her father in law was shocked by lack of attention American women give to the kitchen. It was his primary complaint against the culture. Homemade tomato soup or fresh spaghetti sauce and pasta are referenced in my neighborhood as "fast foods." Burgers are expressly put in the junk food category.
So this week I found it really entertaining when I told my friend I baked a bunch of sweets over the weekend. Hubs and I ate way too many brownies and we were feeling lethargic. She proceeded to assure me that it was ok because they were homemade. I started cracking up and laughed that massive volumes of butter and sugar from my own kitchen are just as unhealthy as the ones in the bakery. She stood firm arguing that my butter had to be healthier than the ones they use "outside." I concede she has a small point when it comes to preservatives, etc. But really?!
Home foods, friends. Go eat some home foods for me.