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A Season to Savour

A Season to Savour

Super foods are not always found in fancy stores

Manidipa Mandal
May 12 , 2017
01 Min Read

That's six seasons, if you go by most Indian calendars. And all savoury, sweet, sour and scrumptious. Troublingly, India is losing its taste for seasonal eating. Chain supermarkets, loss of culinary habits and “pan-Indian” eateries are flattening our food habits into a deceptively comforting monotony— cauliflowers and capsicum rule year round, the socalled English vegetables; bottlegourd or pumpkin, the poor native cousins, are the sole gourd representatives met by some families in a whole year. A pity, what economy dictates—but the great thing about economies is that the market (that’s us) can dictate to it too. That’s the hope inspiring this volume. Pity that the cover ends up almost alienating the more political consumer with ‘culture’ and ‘first food’. There is no baby food, nor indigenous tribal lore. The culture vulture, which extends shadowy wings over the introduction in a BMKJ jihaad against McDonaldisation, misses its mark—the real target is not the West, because it is we that have effected the changes to our diet, and can again. What hits the spot is the rest of the book—I would say the ‘meat of it’, except this is a sanskari vegetarian volume (a problematic exclusion, politically and ecologically). Between scientists and journalists, there is much dished up to make and mull over—mostly recipes for leaves, flowers (with revelations like Parijat Kalakand), fruits and vegetables; plus digestible bites of tradition, agriculture, nutrition, even the business of selection pressure on fields and marketplaces. It ends up more inclusive than its desi agenda, with potatoes, soya beans, and even that international trend of foraged foods that we forgot until the West reminded us; when we harrumphed that we had honoured it all along (we hadn’t, or our bazaars would still boast 14-odd leafy greens). It argues passionately, tastefully. I hope enough readers dip deep enough to buy and cook from it. The challenge is for what are now novelties—gundruk ko jhol, prickly pear jam, cucumber vadis—to return to the everyday, enough to affect an economy required to support their revival. Else, sadly, this pretty book will soon be relegated to the season of mist and forgetfulness


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