‘Thank God I am Fat’ is a curious name for a blog, especially when the author of the blog is petite. Anjana Gopakumar, author of this popular food blog, giggles when I ask her the reason behind the name. “I am a massive foodie and was on the plump side when I was young. My brother used to teasingly call me ‘Thadichi’ [fatso]. He was the one who suggested the name for the blog.”
An ardent foodie, Anjana’s dreamed to become a chef. She even enrolled herself in a culinary school. “I had to drop out as I discovered that I was substance allergic and had atopic dermatitis, which meant that I was allergic to the dust of spices, refined flour, castor sugar…”
As food is what she claims to live for — “I eat, breathe and talk food” — she began looking for a field she could specialise in that was related to food.
She started off by posting drool-worthy pictures on Instagram. “Initially, I wasn’t confident of my clicks and was hesitant to post them. Once I began receiving likes, I grew confident of my photography skills.”
She started the popular blog in 2017. “However, I was irregular with my posts when I began. It was in 2018 that I began posting in earnest,” says Anjana, a member of EAT [Eat at Trivandrum] team.
From sharing pictures of the dishes she ate, to focussing on food reviews and posting ‘mini videos’ about her culinary experiences, Anjana has now started shifting her attention to food anthropology.
“I am now trying to trace the history behind each dish; I enjoy exploring their nuances. I read books, talk to chefs, food curators, home chefs... Recently I read about the history of achappam and even wrote about it. It's known as achai murrukku in Tamil Nadu, gulabi puvalu in Andhra Pradesh, kokis in Sri Lanka and Rosette cookies in Scandinavia. It makes me question if achappam is truly a Kerala snack,” says Anjana, who is currently on a quest to learn more about the food of her homeland.
The 23-year-old, who tries to explore a new dish whenever she eats out, says, an interesting dish she has tried till date is Solkadhi ceviche from The Bombay Canteen in Mumbai. "While, solkadhi is a drink made from coconut milk and kokum, ceviche, is raw fish. I thought it might taste weird with the fried garlic bits on top but it paired beautifully and was absolutely yum."
The closing of restaurants as part of the Covid-19 lockdown saw her entering the kitchen and donning the apron with a vengeance. “I discovered that the medication I was on was working and that I was no longer allergic to the dust of spices, flour et al. I cooked a lot; practicing my mother’s and grandmother’s recipes until I perfected them. I must have posted a video of me making a pressure cooker chicken recipe at least six times!”
With restaurants in the state gradually reopening their doors to customers, Anjana observes that the eateries in Thiruvananthapuram still prefer parcels to their dine-in customers. “Very few have started dine-in services. On the other hand, most restaurants in Kochi are up and running,” she says. And although restaurants are following Covid protocol, she wishes customers would observe the etiquette of wearing a mask. “Some of the fellow diners wear a mask as if it is an accessory. Restaurants could perhaps put up posters on how a person should ideally don a mask.”