In a traditional TamBram household, there was no system of BF-L-D but more of a Brunch (~ 10 AM) of a three course rice-based meal, evening tiffin + coffee (~ 4 PM) of a substantial non-rice main dish (and sometimes rice based) and night supper (~ 7 PM) of a two course rice-based meal ( no wonder we are the diabetic royals of the world). In many homes, there was a post-siesta beverage time (~1.30 pm) where tea (or in some weird families like my in-laws’, coffee) was served with home-fried snacks that melted in the mouth and settled in the hips. The modern TamBram family has slowly morphed into the western BF-L-D system (7.30 AM/12 PM/ 7 PM), which while fine in terms of the main meals, leave the mid-meal periods of midmorning (10 AM) and mid-afternoon (4 PM) a little fuzzy.
The afternoon tea-snack in our house is an enigma. I know many families that can survive on air beyond the three main meals of the day, but those are not ours. We are a family of eat-every-two-hour-ers – we pick like pigeons, but we need to pick often. If we skip the early evening tea-snack, we are rabid dogs by supper time – at least one of us is – the one making the supper.
The traditional “tiffin” is way too much for a between-meal snack. Biscuits and coffee give the feeling of what-the-heck. Besides, when the kid returns from school, she needs (or the mom thinks she needs) something more substantial. On lazy days, I just give her a small cup of curd rice with pickle, which beyond filling, saves me the trouble of thinking. The adults partake of a spoon or two of the same rice which would keep us going until dinner time. Sometimes, the kid is given a PBJ sandwich, which she loves and makes it easy for me too. Occasionally, when the stars are aligned, fancy stuff like bondas, vadas and bajjis (a distant relative to fritters) are made, but not too often for fear of cholesterol overload and more importantly, laziness.
Today, there was a loaf of white bread (which I don’t buy as a rule, I assuage my guilt of buying processed food by going for the brown variety; this was gifted by a visitor), half a spoon of peanut butter and quarter spoon of jam in the fridge. Instead, there was a cucumber that was feeling a little forlorn in a largely empty fridge, and a full butter dish.
Thus was reborn the classic British cucumber sandwich. Cut off the crust, smear softened butter, place thin roundels of cucumber, sprinkle salt and pepper powder, close the sandwich, press it a little so it sticks and voila – heaven in a bite. The last time I had this sandwich, I was 8 years old myself. I had forgotten how well butter goes with cucumber in white bread.
Yes, the little voice grumbles about the amount of calories – Butter? Processed store-bought white bread? But the taste buds shut it up.