Omlette making, egg eating and tabboos in conservative households

Cooking and eating eggs was one of the most anamolous tabboos when I was growing up. I grew up in a conservative Brahmin family and a lot of people are even surprised that I eat, even relish eggs. When we were growing up y family even prepared the eggs, but they were cooked separately, in the back yard or in the garage. The eggs could never enter the kitchen and all the utensils which were involved in egg making was kept separate.

Looking back, it kind of seems funny to me that these people are touching and cooking the eggs and even encouraging you to eat it, but it is still kept away from the main cooking arena. As I said, the whole tabboo was a great paradox.

After I grew up a bit, when I felt like eating eggs, I would go out and eat. But I really missed the delightful way we would go into the garage and eat eggs and then wash the plate separately. It was like a socially accepted but still frowned upon act in my family. Now, while cooking eggs for my daughter, I have found the maintenance of these separate vessels to be such a problem, that I have decided I will only give her boiled eggs and not attempt stuff like omlettes. 


I recalled these experiences when I read about how a national level newspaper told its staff they could not bring non vegetarian food into the office. It is not such an uncommon restriction in India. Where I worked, although the organization really had no policy on veg or non -veg food, the owner of the office space we had rented had said no non-veg food could be consumed there, and largely the staff respected the injunction. Your food preferences is a major factor in determining whether you get certain houses on rent since many house owners cannot tolerate the thought of non-vegetarian food being cooked in their kitchens, even if they dont live in that house at all.

For some reason, in India, vegetarianism is not just a personal choice, but almost a moral standpoint. People who consume meat are an ‘other’ and somehow a lesser, not so nice ‘other’. I dont even want to go ino the caste and religious hierarchy which is at the back of this pious vegetarianism.

I guess I should be glad that my family gave eggs in the way they did. It taught me to respect both vegetarians and non-vegetarians and the choices they have made. Even though I was brought up as a vegetarian, I am not one of those fussy vegetarians who cant stand the sight or thought of non veg food. I can sit at tables where people are eating non-veg. I can even remove the meat from a dish and consume the rest. I respect a person’s choice to eat whatever they want, however they want it. And maybe for this reason, none of my non-vegetarian friends or acquaintances has ever teased me about my choices or tricked me into eating what I did not choose to eat.

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2 thoughts on “Omlette making, egg eating and tabboos in conservative households

  1. Vinitha says:

    I still find the whole separate utensils part very funny (For the lack of a better word). I knew a family who rented their house out to meat-eaters (coz they pay more rent) and then did an hour long pooja (complete with a priest and prasad) to negate the effects of having non-veg served at their house. I grew up eating non-veg and respect choices of others but sometimes some people take it a bit too far.

    • divyasarma says:

      It is funny, definitely, but I guess I respect these people who try to overcome their prejudices, using these rituals, rather than just rejecting people who eat non veg food (and there are plenty, who won’t rent the house to non-veg eaters, no matter what the rent is). I remember one of my grandmother’s friends, a fairly liberal lady for her age, but still someone who had never touched or eaten non-veg. Her daughter in law was a non-vegetarian, and one day she used the main cooker to cook chicken, and proudly showed it to her mother in law. This person totally accepted it, and later just heated the cooker to very high temperature, before washing and using it again. When culture clash, these kind of rituals have their own place, even if they seem ridiculous. At least it shows a way for mutually living together, rather than fighting it out.

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