Pinch Hitting on Food

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NEW DELHI ~ Yuvraj Singh has always had something for food, cancer or no cancer. Last year, when he was returning after his successful treatment for germ cell cancer in the US, reporters asked him what he was looking forward to. “Gobhi ke paranthe made by mom,” came the reply.

Then there are stories about 18-egg omelettes prepared at his father’s home in south Delhi when Yuvraj was growing up. On their under-19 tour of England in 1998, Yuvraj and his teammate Virender Sehwag would shun the baked beans served to them for breakfast and go out to a local school. There, Sehwag would cook paranthas himself and dollop them with butter. The two would then savour a real breakfast.

At the launch of Yuvraj’s autobiography, The Test of My Life, in New Delhi on 19 March, another interesting anecdote was revealed and this involved Sachin Tendulkar. Yuvraj and Sachin reminisced about the moment they first met during a match in Chandigarh. Tendulkar had asked Yuvraj, “Excuse me? Biscuit pass karna.” When Tendulkar met Yuvraj in London after the latter’s treatment in Indianapolis, it was Yuvraj’s appetite that reassured him. “The way he ate, I was convinced he was back on track,” says Tendulkar.

After the conversations on stage ended, the Indian team trooped to a raised podium for dinner. The scent of mutton biryani and butter chicken wafted over to the lawns below. Shabnam, Yuvraj’s mother, made sure important guests did not leave without having dinner. On Yuvi’s current diet, she says, “If your child is not well, prepare food for him that he really likes. But Yuvi has cut down on paranthas since he gained weight. He eats porridge and grilled chicken with masala.” And 18-egg omelettes? “Nope, just four egg-whites,” she says.

She had criticism too. “He had two gulab jamuns yesterday that he’s been repenting,” says Shabnam, as Yuvraj pops up from behind with a sorry face.

(Read a review of The Test of My Life)