Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Passion of Eating Meat

Hey, I have found out a way to blog oftener! IN THE CAR! On the way to work, I read. At work, it is too hectic. At home, it is even more hectic! So, the best way is on the car back home! Short half-hour posts to keep myself busy!
Acknowledgements: IBM Thinkpad and Reliance Internet Card.

A friend landed up a few nights back – and we ended up discussing food. This is unavoidable when two Bengalis get together. (My father, for example, discusses lunch at the breakfast table, dinner at lunch ad infinitum. He finalized the menu for his children’s weddings long before my sister and I had found ourselves our respective spouses!)
We talked about the Hilsa festival at Oh Calcutta. Delectable – though less adventurous people would do well to order from the paturi and other boneless options.
We got emotional talking about Tunday Kababi – and decided the place should be declared a heritage site asap.
We talked about the possibility of finding him a Bengali maid in Bombay – and how that would make his already blissful life absolutely perfect.
We talked about how his vegetarian fiancée would have to teach the maid the intricacies of sambhar-rasam-thayir saadam because it would be impossible to teach a Tamil maid the Bong stuff!

Before we rounded the evening off with lots of rice and chingrir malai-curry, we came to the somewhat redundant conclusion that passion for food is restricted to non-vegetarians. This is not to say vegetarian cuisine is not capable of producing masterpieces. Dal Bukhara is one such creation. Its legend stays with people beyond generations and lives.
But, passion – as defined by the urge to kill human beings for the want of flesh (cooked!).
Passion – in which spicy, cholesterol-laden red meat is embraced with the same abandon that drives moth to flames.
That does not flow in the heated bowls of sambhar and rasam but in the trenchant gravies of mutton and pork!

When starving drunkards arrive at dhabas and coffee shops to smother the alcohol fumes with some food, it is the protein which inflames tempers and never the carbohydrates or fibres. The excess salt in the Mushroom Masala gets brushed under the carpet while it is the Kadhai Chicken which get slandered as crow and often crockery has to be smashed to make the other side see reason!

Vegetarian eateries (especially in South) have legendary fan followings. MTR in Bangalore, for example, has teeming masses collecting coupons for their meals and waiting in a disciplined manner for hours (literally). Vidyarthi Bhawan (also in Bangalore) has a similarly orderly army partaking the crisp dosas and never raising a murmur about anything.
Imagine the same length of queue in Moti Mahal or Kareem. Very ordinary eating-joints on Pandara Road continuously have minor battles over queue jumping and billing delays. The bloodshed over Moti Mahal’s Chicken Butter Masala and Kareem’s Mutton Barra Kababs would be far gorier!

Shahi Paneer is a lot like the average married woman. There are innumerable people who stay wedded to her and extol the virtues.
But the Chicken Tikka at Bade Miyan? That’s Helen of Troy for you. A thousand ships, gods and men destroy each other to get her.

Yeah, I better activate my contacts in Bombay to find a Bong maid for my friend. He might murder me otherwise!
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