It was a magnificent sadhya. 28 types of dishes were laid out on a leaf, and every one of them were sampled with relish. At the end of that outstanding meal, we got up, staggering with happiness and slumped on a chair, inert.  A few insects flew around, the sun toasted our skins and the slow happiness of a food coma enveloped us.

 

When I eat good food, it’s like a mood switch is activated in my brain - it immediately turns to ‘happy’. There seems to be an invisible link between pleasure and delicious food. A childhood friend of mine tells me that when we were in high school and I would look down because of some imagined teenage angst, she would take me out for a big, fat masala dosa, and immediately I would begin smiling again, optimistic about the future.

 

I have another friend who beats Monday morning woes by having jalebis for breakfast. She stocks up on these yellow, sugar filled, concentric circles of indulgence the night before and when she wakes up to the beginning of a brand new week, she pops in five of them with chai. I have yet to ask her whether she has tested her sugar levels.

 

Have you ever seen anybody cry in a bakery? It is almost impossible to stand surrounded by the smell of bread, biscuits, cakes and feel hopeless. The buttery, flaking yumminess in tiny, colourful calorie-filled temptations will chase away the slimmest sliver of the blues.

 

My partner suffers from a condition called ‘hangry’ (it’s an emotion, which is one part hungry and one part angry). If he doesn’t get food at the right time, he gets furious. At 8:30 am, 12:30 pm and 7:30 pm, I ensure we chew on something or the atmosphere at home can turn very hostile. A simple request to turn on the fan can erupt into a stormy lecture on how to be self-reliant in a world of increased dependence.

 

According to a scientific article I read, eating an ice-cream can physically make you feel good. When you tuck into a delicious, cold spoon of chocolatey goodness, it lights-up the very same pleasure centres as those that get turned on in happy times like when you win a Land Cruiser in a lucky draw or when you listen to Coltrane’s Love Supreme.

 

This ‘food-that-makes-you-happy’ could vary from person to person. My friend’s three-year-old daughter loves sucking on a bitter gourd (I can’t wait to see how weird she will be when she grows up), my mother feels quite pleased with the world when there is a fish head curry on the table, and my cousin R when she is super stressed, fixes herself a meal of dal, fish fry, ghee and rice. She claims it is better than meditation, valium or therapy.

 

I guess in that sense we are all lucky for a taste of happiness is always within reach. So the next time the world doesn’t feel so good, just remember that a gooey, moist piece of chocolate cake with piping hot caramel sauce or a perfectly spiced, right-shade-of-yellow dal fry is only a bite away.

 

 

 

Still Figuring It Out’ a funny, sad, questioning take on adulthood will appear every Saturday on Asianet NewsableArathi Menon is the author of Leaving Home With Half a Fridge, a memoir published by Pan Macmillan. She tweets at here. The views expressed here are her own.