Sunday, January 07, 2007

And you are?

One of our pillars of identity is what we eat. In fact, what we eat can be so parochial in nature is that if you try to arrive at the idea of a nation based on food habits – as is possible in a foreign land – the whole analysis is practically useless in the way of categorization but does harbour serious possibilities as farce.

So, say for example, some tourist has been, just by chance, to an Andhra - style restaurant & has had a sumptuous thali, complete with that fiery Rasam. It is just incredibly funny to think Rasam & rice could then in her mind, oblivious to vastness & the consequent variety of our country, become some thing like an Indian dish – devoured with smacking relish across our vast country, with eulogies emanating from the deep recesses of devourer’s guttural abyss.

While I personally love a well made pongal the kind you get in Chennai more often than you do in Bangalore, the pregnant silence that make its presence felt when I voice this opinion in a group of people who belong to the north of the Vindhyas makes me want to dive into a suitcase & pull the top tight & securely.

Bengalis are fish-eaters. That’s banana oil, you know. Give them something piscine you’ve scooped up from a sea & regardless of the content of your bookshelf, or your political point of view, they’ll brand you as loutish tykes unworthy of their society.

What is eaten in Mandya is, then, eaten only in Mandya.

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