People have been nagging me to share “the curry story” on here for ages, so alright, I’ll do it. (If you’re Indian and reading this, I am so sorry).
I swear to god, everything I am about to say in this story is true.
When I was eleven, I moved to a small town in rural England and acquired a new best friend at school. Her at that point seemingly-very-normal-parents- nice suburban house, three kids, trampoline in the backyard- invited me over for dinner, and said they were making curry and rhubarb crumble.
“Curry and rhubarb crumble”. Never in the history of mankind have words been so untrue.
The “curry” consisted of, I swear I am not making this up, a vague mixture of * deep breath, oatmeal, tofu sausages, corn, tomato juice, chopped onions, raisins, “leftover broccoli leaves”, kale, and scrambled eggs. The only spice in it was the tiniest smidgen of turmeric. All these ingredients were vaguely stirred together, undercooked, and stuck under a broiler for ten minutes.
They gave me a massive portion. I somehow, I still don’t know how, was polite enough to finish it.
“I’m done,” I said.
“No,” said her father. “In this house, we LICK our plates clean.”
He did. They didn’t make me hold it up and lick it like they all did, but they did make me clean the plate with a piece of bread and my fork until they were satisfied.
Desert came. The rhubarb crumble was entirely unsweetened. Not so much as a raisin. I can’t remember what the crumble part was, because my mind is still haunted by the memory of being forced to eat an entire bowl of unsweetened rhubarb. You know in old Looney Tunes when characters would be tricked into eating allum and their heads would shrink? That’s what eating it felt like. They made me clean my bowl of that too, and wouldn’t let me leave the table until I finished.
The next time, (I was in middle school and as yet too polite to turn down my best friend’s parents) they made “spaghetti and meatballs and salad”. The spaghetti was utterly plain and so undercooked it was crunchy, the “meatballs” consisted of a single large orb of some grey material i have yet to identify, and the salad was, i shit you not, limp boiled lettuce. Crunchy spaghetti, unidentified lumpy grey stuff, and boiled lettuce.
The fascinating thing is that, while yes, these people were obviously health nuts, it was so much more than that. They were health nuts who also cooked like aliens who had never seen human food before. Or like small children making “potions”. One of the more edible things they served to me once was a dessert they made up which consisted of halved apples rolled in cornflour with some milk poured on top. One time, they were convinced to make pizza as a treat. They decided to put an onion on it. Fair and fine, you’d think. Not in that house. They just cut the onion in half once, and stuck each unchopped half facedown on one side of the pizza.
Speaking of onions, one time, my friend decided to make a banana and yoghurt smoothie. Her dad came in, said it wasn’t healthy enough, and made her add an onion to it.
They had a homemade cereal I thankfully was able to opt out of trying which 100% looked like the contents of a vacuum bag. I still have no idea what it contained.
Amazingly, it was by no means just me who experienced this. It was a small town, and every girl in it my age had a selection of horror stories about being invited to dinner at this friend’s house in the exact same ritualistic horror-film fashion. We used to sit around comparing them at sleepovers. Age did not exempt you. One time, this friend’s six year old brother had a friend over for dinner at the same time, poor soul. His mom arrived to pick him up, and wasn’t allowed to take him home until he finished whatever crime against cooking was on the menu that night.
Every story was the same. The ritual that never varied. Every time, these people would make a huge fanfare out of inviting you over for dinner, act all hospitable and excited, set the table, and then serve you a massive helping of the worst food in the world, and make you clean your plate of it, desert included. Who the hell forces you to finish your DESERT?
It’s a mystery to me. They clearly had SOME degree of self-awareness, because after I came to my senses and started coming up with excuses to avoid eating at their house they would tease me saying things like “ohoho, you don’t like LIKE our food do you”. If they had been a bit more fun and less generally puritanical sort of people, I could totally believe this was a family trolling activity where they secretly schemed to come up with the worst possible dishes, secretly filmed themselves forcing people to eat them and watched it and laughed afterwards, I could believe it.
All I’m saying is I’m pretty sure they weren’t aliens, but the more I type this out, the more tempted I am to believe it. Fuck it, maybe they WERE aliens.
They were DEFINITELY aliens.