The Taste of Memories
One of the few things that hasn’t changed in the thirty years I’ve been alive, is the chocolate sauce at Corner House.
For those of you who don’t know Corner House, it’s a Bangalore legend. Born in 1982, nine years before me, it has been the go to place for ice cream sundaes in the city. They may have changed locations over the years, they may have added more stores, they may have increased their prices to keep up with inflation, but it’s what they don’t change that makes them so legendary. (Or should I say, Legen-Dairy? #SorryNotSorry)
Their menu has barely changed since my childhood in the 90s, their branding hasn’t changed, and some of their central Bangalore locations have been around for 20+ years. But most importantly, their chocolate sauce recipe has been consistent over the years, across locations, and despite how much the brand has grown. Something very few f&b brands have managed to do.
It is the taste of this chocolate sauce that holds so many of my memories.
As a kid, it was the taste of the weekend — of dinners at Ballal Residency or Airlines and then Corner House after. It was the taste of tumultuous days that ended with silence as we ate our desserts.
As a teenager who lived abroad, it was the taste of home. If I landed at a decent hour, we would go straight to Corner House from the airport. If not, my mom would buy it and keep it in the freezer ready for me when I got home. 30+ hours of travel, sleeplessness, and fatigue couldn’t keep me away from that cake fudge. It was like a cold, chocolatey hug from an old friend welcoming me home. Following which I would promptly succumb to the jet lag and pass out.
As an adult who lived abroad, it was the taste of reunions. It was the taste of meeting school friends again. It was where I would take my American colleagues to have a taste of my city and childhood. It was where I took any new friend who had just moved to the city or any old friend who had come to visit me. It was an anchor in the sea of a Bangalore that seemed to change every time I came home. Restaurants would come and go, one ways would change, old clubs would shut down and new bars would open, but Corner House would be there. Unchanging, immovable, steady, with a hand outstretched as if to say, “Don’t worry. This is still the Bangalore you grew up in.”
When I finally moved back to Bangalore in 2016, Corner House was, as always, at the top of my food list. Over the last few years of living at home, it became a regular part of my life again. That chocolate sauce became the taste of Sundays. My mom and I had a set Sunday routine. Nagarjuna Biryani + Corner House and then a long food coma nap. A Sunday without Corner House was a Sunday wasted.
It also ended up becoming the taste of first dates, the taste of hope and possibility. If a date was going well, we would make an excuse to spend more time by adding Corner House to the list of things to do. If the date was going badly or was boring and it seemed too early to go home, I would find a way to end up at Corner House. A cake fudge could salvage anything.
It was also then, the taste of heartbreak. Of dates that turned into relationships, which turned sour, and then disintegrated into heartbreak. It was the taste of watching He’s Just Not That Into You, yet again, and crying into a bowl of ice cream, yet again. Corner House was there for me through every break up, the same steady, warm, hand-holding anchor in stormy seas.
It was the taste of cheat day during every damn diet I tried over the years. It was the taste of coming home drunk and realising I hadn’t eaten anything in 12 hours. A hot shawarma and a hot chocolate fudge later, I would take off my eye make up and sleep for 12 hours, feeling like I had just been tucked in by a lover.
During the pandemic it was the taste of quiet evenings with my mom. She with her dry fruit sundae and me with my cake fudge, quietly eating together. Sad about the state of the world, but grateful for simple pleasures.
When I moved out of home to a part of town I had never lived in, Corner House being 1 km away felt like a safety blanket. Everything was unfamiliar again, but Corner House was there for me.
Today it’s the taste of someone listening to me complain for 15 minutes about how PMS was making me grumpy and then saying, “Do you want a hot chocolate fudge?” and me responding in a sheepish whisper, “I want cake fudge.” Today it’s the taste of holding hands across a bowlful of cake, ice cream, and hot chocolate sauce while we look hopefully at each other between bites, while we coyly tell the other “there’s chocolate on your chin”, while we let the rest of the world melt away and make sure the ice cream doesn’t — a new memory forming with each spoonful. Another addition to the memories enmeshed in the taste of Corner House chocolate sauce.