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Exploring culinary memories with Via Dil

"Via Dil is a project in which I make food that people are craving or have a certain memory associated with. Then I write about their memory and my experience cooking, eating and feeding it. I started Via Dil in an attempt to improve my relationship with food, which is negligent at best. When I was little I was force fed every meal. Sometimes I would puke and my mother (who had undiagnosed schizophrenia) would push the puke back in my mouth, among other things. When I started living alone, I managed to land myself in a hospital with dehydration. In therapy, I realised that my mind does not recognise hunger. Since then I have been trying to work on my relationship with food and consumption. I cooked for the first time during this pandemic, purely out of need. The more I cooked the less indifferent to food I grew. I was rewriting my associations with food. I was also feeling lonely. So I baked a red velvet cake that my friend told me she craved on a call. She told me Red Velvet Cakes are comforting to her. The conversation felt like a breeze from another world blowing throw my window; like borrowing a life and wearing it for an evening. I thought of doing a few more posts, but the more conversations I had, the more lives were exchanged and I couldn't stop.

Last week, I made Gulab Jamun for a person who lost his grandma to Corona. He called her Aai. Aai made Gulab Jamun for him every year when he visited her. After she passed he decided to not eat Gulab Jamun for a year. I made my Gulab Jamun with my grandmother, dadi. When this person read the post, he got my number and called me. He spoke about Aai, what made her laugh, her hopes for him and some regrets he had. I noticed later that I was sitting on the floor of my kitchen listening, laughing, briefly crying with a stranger."

-Prachi Bhutada

My family is a loud and hyperactive kind. So, a hundred activities are going on around me while I cook; my niece is showing me something she painted, Mumma is showing me a houseplant to inspect, dadi is cooking something alongside, while my dog barks for more bread. This image shows Dadi impishly looking at the rest of the family after messing up a Wada we were making. She is very enthusiastic. I can hear her talk about the project to our relatives over calls often: "Prachi made momos for the people over the internet today. Boiled Maida sounds gross but it tasted so good! You should try it."

You can read more stories here and follow Prachi's project on Instagram.


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