There are some things one just doesn't get the first time around. Trigonometry (actually, I'm not sure I'd get that even a second time around!), statistics, economics…peanut butter…
Yup, peanut butter. I grew up in India, where you don't get it – either to buy or as a taste – until I was about 12 and then we headed out to first Bangkok for a few years and later, Singapore. I went to the International/ American schools there. I discovered a whole new world of reading – Beverly Cleary with Ramona and Henry, Maud Hart Lovelace with Betsy, Lastuff.ura Ingalls Wilder and so on. I also discovered some interesting things in the cafeteria, which included something many of the American children's books and sitcoms rhapsodized about – peanut butter. At first I wasn't very adventurous about food except for an unfortunate predilection for strawberry flavoured things (synthetic strawberry flavor sucks, I've discovered). Eventually I tried a peanut butter sandwich or two, coaxed on by American school friends but I never understood what exactly about it was a big deal. Eventually I was forced to the conclusion that it was cultural differences, a conclusion that helped me accept a lot of peculiar things that year.
A couple of years later, when we were in Singapore and I was ready to be more adventurous about vegetarian food, at least, we bought a couple packs of Skippy's Peanut butter. I tried the smooth, I tried the chunky. Hmm, not so much, I thought. Then I tried something called Chocolate strips – the peanut butter and chocolate paste were packed in alternating stripes, so when you spread it on a piece of bread or toast, you got a light and dark brown striped thing that finally – finally – tasted good. We came back to India a couple of years later and peanut butter became something one had vaguely tried at some point, kinda like cigarettes, and decided to live without, with no regrets.
Well, recently I was at the neighbourhood hypermarket and came across Ben and Jerry's icecream. I'm not someone who liked fruit-flavoured icecream ( for that I prefer gelato or sorbets) so eschewing the Chunky monkey which is banana flavoured, they only had Chubby Hubby so I picked up a tub. Ben and Jerry's is one of my favourite icecream brands so I hoped for the best after I realized it had peanut butter in it. That night, after all three kids were finally asleep, A and I decided to treat ourselves to a little CH. One spoonful later and I was hooked. This was a lovely mélange of flavours and textures, with the sweet, silken chocolate and vanilla rubbing up against the slightly salty, chunky peanut butter. Awesome, was our verdict.
Then, a little while later, I was flying out of SFO airport and spotted a Ghirardelli's stand so I made a beeline for it and bought a pack of assorted chocolates. Back home, I found a peanut-butter flavoured chocolate. One bite and I was hooked, with the tiny pebbly peanut butter contrasting against silken chocolate all over again. Hmm, peanut butter seems like a good thing, I thought and bought a jar of Skippy's smooth PB. I made myself toast for breakfast a few days later and with a smear of PB and J on it, I realized I had found a new food taste to get hooked on to.
Now the only problem is that Skippy's is quite expensive. There is an Indian brand, Sundrop, which has just launched PB but it's from the house of a tobacco giant, so A and I being conscientious objectors, I can't buy that. Gee, did anyone ever envisage the day that peanut butter would be classified as a 'luxury'?