Fri, 28 Feb, 2020

Stories that are audible and edible!

Zarine Menon, author of Make Me Happy Salads and founder of Salad Stories will be telling farm-fresh stories with basketful of fruits and veggies to kids in Goa on September 13. In a chat with TGLife the storyteller narrates her tale

12th September 2019, 02:51 Hrs


Her stories are not only audible but edible too. When kids eat up their (salad) stories to the last byte (bite) in her yummy, unique story telling sessions, this author of children’s books and a certified (Kathalya) storyteller, Zarine Menon, is simply too happy. Bringing her salad stories for the kids in Goa for the first time, Zarine will be conducting storytelling workshops in Goa.   

Her 2018 book, ‘Make Me Happy Salads’ is about nature-inspired, colourful and healthy salads for children. It aims to help parents encourage their children to make healthier food choices, become aware of their natural surrounding and understand the need to preserve nature.   

The founder of Salad Stories - a unique concept of telling stories with fresh fruit and vegetables, Zarine’s workshops in Sri Lanka and across metros in India are well received. Her workshops at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival and Peek A Book Literary Festival piqued curiosity. After her book launch at the Oxford Bookstore in Delhi, the book is available across India.   

“As a media professional, experienced in television and radio and as a mother, it gives me great pleasure to be able to share this book with children, parents as well as educators,” says Zarine who is in Goa currently. Here, she will be conducting two workshops at Prokids and Bookworm, both in Panaji.   

How did this concept of weaving stories with salads hit her? “It originated from my own experience, while dealing with my son Kabir as a kid because I wanted him to eat healthy. His diet changed from liquid to semi-solid, and then to solid, and I added fruits and vegetables to it. Both of us enjoyed creating characters on the plate. I began sending salads to school too. The kids and their parents loved my concept. Inquiries began to pour in asking if I could share my salad stories with other mothers in local schools where I was invited.”   

Zarine recalls, “There were heartfelt responses from wherever I went and I thought my efforts are worthwhile. Children, who never tasted a carrot or a beetroot, began enjoying the bites. They began making things on their own, adding imagination and creativity. This was a change. There were thankful mothers around me. Even grandparents appreciated my concept of palatable art.” So much so that her stories crossed borders and reached Sri Lanka. She found that there was no such guidebook for healthy eaters. So, she thought of filling this gap with her own book. She worked on it for two years and eventually, published it last year. “Now my book travels to places I don’t reach,” quips Zarine.   

In her workshops, she ensures to try out something new and make kids aware of the nature around them-butterflies, caterpillars or birds. Stories create meaning and when one tries to bring the characters in these stories into their life as live, practical objects, it becomes all the more interesting. As a former creative head in a television company, Zarine loved programming for children. That was something close to her heart, and hence she did storytelling course at Kathalaya to further polish her skills. And today, it’s been five years that she travels to cities and towns with her stories offering the taste of her salads. Until now she has conducted 50 odd workshops divided in two age groups – 3-5 and 5-9. She makes eating healthy and exciting for kids. The workshops unfold friendships and the kids enjoy going out and discovering things. Art comes alive on their plates.   

“Of course, it depends on the participants too. My job is making them try out something, maybe a bite of a carrot, experiencing the aroma and taste of the fruit or vegetable on their platter, to coax them to eat healthy, have fun with food by making it colourful and interesting,” claims Zarine. Mothers do so much for their kids. Zarine’s workshops make things easy for them. With any kitchen gadget, a knife, a grater or a peeler, a doting mother can give aesthetic touch to the food. Fruits and vegetables are no longer boring then, as they look interestingly edible and palatable.   

Zarine recalls her own childhood days when whatever was cooked used to be healthy and meant for all to eat,irrespective of tastes or flavours.  

Maintaining that spices are necessary to enhance taste, Zarine points out that natural fiber is very much a part of the daily diet. It is during childhood that tastes are developed, which lead to healthy eating habits in the adulthood. So introducing raw tastes at a young age is the key. To offer freshness, Zarine picks up seasonal fruits from the market for her workshops and weaves aromatic stories around them. Her conscious effort to develop a cult of healthy eating in children would be indeed a welcome step in Goa, where fish, meat and chicken dominate the taste buds of young and old.   

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