green banana leaf

Basically, a food blog. But, don't expect too many recipes. I am a foodie, alright, but hardly a nice, little cookey !

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Hi everybody out there, as I have said, this green banana leaf is basically a food blog. But, not essentially a cookery blog. For the simple reason that I am not a great cook, as such.

All the same, I just simply love food. I love to think food, not only eat. And, I believe food is part of culture. Not just a small part, but food forms the major chunk of what we call culture. Especially in India, that is the case. As we all know, the abhominable custom of 'untouchability' or 'touchability' had a lot to do with food. It was food that was 'contaminated' or 'polluted' by the touch or presence of persons belonging to castes placed in the lower rungs of social hierarchy according to the Hindu scriptures.

All sorts of taboos veered around food. Kitchen was the 'sanctum sanctorum' of households. During my parents' youth, which means the period upto Sixties, even the Seventies, nobody belonging to a 'lower' caste was permitted to enter the kitchen. And, nobody was permitted to eat food prepared by persons belonging to 'lower' castes. For Hindus in general, eating food prepared by people belonging to other faiths, like Muslims or Christians, was also a strict no-no. And, eating out was ..... unthinkable.

And, all the caste rules were applied much more strictly to women, than men.

The country of my birth, Kerala, has changed a lot. So much that all this stuff about 'untouchability' and food taboos might seem like fairy tales for the present generation. Still, just a couple of decades separate these two eras, in the history of my land.

While surfing the net about kerala food, I am quite intrigued to see endless websites listing almost homogenous inventories of dishes supposed to be of Kerala origin.

But, the food of Kerala is much more than that. And, much of what you now believe to be of Kerala, hardly belongs here.

Because, like the name of one popular dish has come to mean in Malayalam, the culture of Kerala is a real 'aviyal,' which means, 'a mixed baggage.' Half the food stuff here came from all over the globe. And, more than half of the cuisine also arrived from different shores.

And, we the Malayalees, with our characteristic ease, assimilated all, tucked into the folds of our mundu, and continued bragging about our 'age-old' culture and traditions !


At 7:55 PM, Blogger vince said...

Hi, u know when we after finish eating the banana leaf. the leaf should close inward or outward to us. Is it an culture for india? and its means what. I hope to know this culture and hope u reply me soon. Thx :)

At 2:23 AM, Blogger Ramki said...

Apart from not eating food prepared by 'untouchables', food items can themselves be 'untouchable'. A cuisine is a storehouse of prejudices of a culture. Many temples still do not use tomato or 'English vegetables' as it came from a 'untouchable' culture. We still talk about 'purity' of a cuisine with impunity, while it is no different from racial purity or linguistic purity. Being a 'foodist' seems ok!:)

That said, there are very few foodie blogs that I read from start to finish at one shot. Yours Renu, was a find ! I read all of adulaka and moved over to green banana leaf and with regret finished it. I hope you write more !

Thanks for the brilliant posts !


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