It’s been more than a year since this blog was posted to. In the interim, the cooking, trying out new recipes, eating and drinking continued unbroken, but somehow I never got around to blogging about it. Maybe the first flush of enthusiasm from the initial months of this blog last year had faded somewhat. I’m told many blogs face this fate.
And so a year and a bit went by. Saturday, 14 April was Bengali new year’s day (or Poila Boishakh). And a day before that was Vishu, the Malayali new year, and Tamil New year’s day. And Baisakhi in Punjab, and Bihu in Assam. It seemed like a mighty fine time to get Foodnama going again. Hopefully this time around, the infatuation would have given way to something more steady, less ephemeral, and the output on the blog will reflect that.
On Poila Boishakh as I wolfed down sweets through the day and later went out for dinner with the family I was reminded of an article I’d read a few months back. Mihir Sharma had written in the Indian Express that Indian festivals lacked distinctive foods to go with them, unlike the turkeys at Thanksgiving, or the cakes at Christmas. I wasn’t entirely convinced then. I believe the range and diversity of occasions in our festivals make it unlikely that they would necessarily have typical foods associated with them. Also, some of our biggest festivals have underpinnings other than food – think Diwali and Holi for example. Secondly, festivals that do have foods associated with them are sometimes the minor or lesser known festivals, that are not nationally known. Poush Sankranti (also known as Makar Sankranti) is a Bengali event that readily comes to mind. ‘Puli-pithey’, a range of outstanding sweets that are traditionally home-made and not often sold by merchants of Bengali sweets, are integral to Poush Sankranti. I would also posit that Durga Puja (not exactly a minor festival anyway) is typified by the glory of Calcutta street food, certainly in celebrations outside Bengal.
I cannot think of too many other examples right away, however (Ignorance is the main culprit, and enlightenment in this area is certainly a cause worth pursuing). As a result I’m not sure if Mihir’s point is the more correct one and Poush Sankranti is the outlier, or we simply do not know of enough festivals that go with specific kinds of festive foods. It may also well be that festival foods are gradually fading away, unable to command the attention and time to recipes and traditions from people today. And that would the sadder thing surely, than not to have foods linked to festivals to begin with.