The discovery of deep frying

I’d not realized how hard it is to photograph food while it is cooking. There was something satisfying about taking photos of brinjal (Aubergine, egg plant, use your favourite synonym) as it is frying in a pan. The brown, black, and purple colour palette reminded me of the tortured paintings of Goya, reflected in the spilled guts of the fried brinjal.

But why a post about deep frying, you ask? Well, after weeks of being locked away at home, I was dying to eat something different. There was a large brinjal on the kitchen counter, which reminded me of deep fried Bengali brinjal. So I decided to adapt it to an experimental low-oil cooking method. I cut it into thin rounds, and then heated a tea spoon of oil in a non-stick pan. I put in three disks of brinjal, and they soaked up the oil immediately. The idea that I was trying to bootstrap is that they would release the oil after they were done, and I could put in more of the vegetable then, and cook it in the same oil. As you can see from the photos, this process could continue until I had the whole baingan fried. The Family pronounced this a success. “Unfortunately, you can’t make puri this way,” she told me.

Hmm!

Driving the Prado

Prado is a blank in my camera. With its ban on photography, one of the world’s greatest museums of European art is that enigmatic. The Museo del Prado was the first stop in our visit to Spain, and the five hours we spent there was barely sufficient to get an overview of their collection of Spanish art.

If the Mona Lisa is the most visited painting in the Louvre, Las Meninas by Velazquez (below) is the single most visited painting in the Prado. I was with the majority. When The Family picked up a floor plan, I looked for the quickest route to Las Meninas. The huge painting dominates the gallery it is in, and has an enormous crowd which moves around it. The audio guide at the Prado is very informative, and a large number of people here were using it. One interesting fact, not mentioned by the guide, but visible in the statue of Velazquez outside the Prado (featured photo), is that Velazquez used special long-handled brushes for such large paintings. This made it possible for him to gauge the effect the painting would have for a viewer standing at a distance. Another wonderful painting by Velazquez in the Prado is The Fable of Arachne, perhaps one of his last paintings.

The Prado holds the Royal Collection of Spain. Although this is the nucleus, much has been added over the years. The original building, designed by Juan de Villanueva, has long been insufficient. New wings and galleries were added over the years, three independent buildings now hold gallery space for the Prado, and new space is currently being added. A day or two is not enough to see it all. It is best to buy a ticket on-line fairly far in advance. You are given a 15 minute slot for entry, but you can use the ticket for the full day, and even leave and come back in the same day. The cafeteria is very good and you do not need to leave if you don’t want to. We had a quick lunch in the museum’s cafeteria after taking in the extensive collection of paintings by Goya.

The paintings on display change, some come out of the holdings on to the walls, others circulate around the world. There is a limit to how much art you can absorb in a day. The Prado is immense, and one needs to visit it several times in order to take in all that it has.