From public foodie flagellations to mom groups outflixing Netflix

Everyone wants to be a writer or a cook. I’ve never understood this fascination, given that I both write and cook. The first is a lonely task, and the smarter option for the second is to train or surround yourself with people who will cook for you. Few places put these two obsessions into focus as beautifully as the world of Facebook groups.

I am in many food groups because I like good food and interesting recipes. The good part of food groups is that you learn about new restaurants or delivery outlets, their timings and menus, and often, group members share exciting recipes. But that’s where it begins and ends.

For some reason, most people in food groups write posts phonetically. It’s like being in a kindergarten class, where you’re trying to guess the word being spelt out. Usually, food groups are – yes – manned by men, who take their job seriously. I’ve seen them tick off hapless women who write down intricate recipes, but shockingly, have added pictures of the dish instead of one, as ‘allowed’ by admin.

Rarely have I seen adults get pulled up so publicly for their transgressions, and then abjectly apologise and correct their mistakes. But they all have Stockholm Syndrome, and come back for more abuse with their next post.

My other learning is that you should not take the word of strangers when it comes to food recommendations, even objectively. Everyone will be raving about a lobster thermidor, only for me to find that it’s a large prawn baked in a corn starch-rich white sauce. Forget Alain Ducasse, even a line cook in France would kill himself at the sight of this thermidor.

What you do see in these groups is their love for taking down restaurants if they didn’t enjoy the food, or felt the bill was too high. Social media has created monsters who’ve realised that an online post can bring a good restaurant to its knees – and get you a free meal if you kick up enough of a fuss. It’s a strange show of muscle power.However, food groups pale compared to the entertainment value of mum groups on Facebook. It’s an alternate universe, which, in turn, is endearing, full of pathos, and sometimes scary. I’m pleased that mothers have found online communities to share their thoughts with. Most of them have families who aren’t listening to them and have no friends.For some reason, I’m in two mom groups in Delhi-NCR. And oh, the entertainment after a full day’s work! Who needs Netflix? While there are the normal requests for information – the ups and downs of sending unaccompanied minors on flights, or feedback on schools or summer coaching camps – there are posts that are akin to anthropological studies on Amazonian tribes.

Last month, there was much talk about an American swimming instructor, who comes every year in June, charges ₹2,000 per class per child and teaches them swimming through ‘games and toys and songs’, not ‘trauma learning’. I’m assuming none of these moms know how to swim, because singing ain’t going to keep your child afloat.

Then there are the mothers who crowdsource ideas on how to seduce their sex-averse husbands. One tip was to call him at work and indulge in some dirty talk. More worrying was when a few other mums discussed where to get conversion therapy for their children who were confused about their genders. The kids might be all right, but the mothers certainly ain’t.

Everyone criticises social media. But no one realises what an excellent study in human psychology it is. It’s also a great way of keeping a marriage together, since your wife would have vented all her rage online by the time she sees you in the evening.

I’d carry on, but it’s time for today’s public flagellation of a food group member by the male dominatrix admin. She didn’t mention how much coriander to use in her homemade samosa! Will these women never learn?


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