Kanchuki & I were laughing a few days about how people from Assam always carry tamul–paan (areca nut & betel leaves) where ever they go. They will take out their small filigreed metal cases of tamul & paan and delicately pull out a single leaf, wrap the tamul in it, place it in their mouths and begin to chew in joy, often closing their eyes in rapture. If the sight of this causes you to gather up courage and ask for some, you will be briefly met with a glare, before your Assamese friend sighs in resignation to his gentler nature and shares some (just a little!) with you. People from Assam love their fish, their tea and their saag – but I believe they would happily travel without any of those things, if only they could get to carry their tamul-paan!
So Kanchuki asked me – “What is it that Tamilians would never travel without?”. The answer was obvious to me, of course – it is a little bit of “starter” curd, which they can use to set dahi anywhere they may go. Tamilians can be obsessive about their curd, and otherwise fearful and timid maamis can be found smuggling “starter” curd through customs in airports across the world! This is the one thing that even the most meek Tamilian would happily wrestle to keep in their possession when they cross borders.
So here’s the meme: What is the one food that people from your region cannot travel without? What is that one food that is so loved, that they will smuggle, steal and die for it?