Friday, April 27, 2007

Sushi, hunan shrimp or Shish Kafta?

How do you compare foods? Based on taste, or based on your sense of tastefulness? or based on how you satisfy your hunger at a particular point of time?

Hunger is probably the driving force in this world. The world biota is existing because hunger is driving it to exist. The evolution dictated the creation in such way that you can enjoy the deliciousness and juicy drops of a shish kabob. But do you always want to eat what you think you would like to eat? Most of the cases, the answer would be "no".

We used to grow up with one particular cuisine. Mom-cuisine. The taste-buds are accustomed to the taste that mom-cooked food tasted. Be it "luchi-aloor dom", be it "khichuri", be it "mangser-jhol", be it "pabda maachh", be it "alu-posto" it numberous other dishes that I cannot name it here because blogspot does not have that much space. Then you go outside the familiar home dining room, hit the college canteen, late evening coaching classes, the roll corner behind the bus stop, the egg-chowmin, the pakoras. There is a major transformation zone of your nerves connecting your taste bud. New enzymes, new hormones, new chemical reaction all-together. And before you realise, you started liking shish kabobs, the beef roll of Khaliques, the parantha and beef curry at Nizam, the biriyani in Shiraz. You already connected yourself to the same dinning plate of your rulers 500 years ago.

The odd connection to oriental food so far has been the chow-min, and noodles. You cross overseas, reach either Europe or North America. Opportunists around the world gather over there to sell their own-self. Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Middle-eastern, Africans. The most funny and interesting thing is, these people came late, by atleast 120 years. Their ancestors migrated to America in mid 1800s. The issue with Europe is different. Well, we all migrated from Africa. Lets not get into the root of civilization arguement, keep it with food and cuisine, shall we?

Getting back to what I was discussing, you see restaurants from all these countries. People came to do business. A business prospers only when it get along with the neighbourhood where you are doing business. May be this is true for small business only. Nevertheless, to get "along" with neighbourhood, the cuisine style changes to fit in the "taste"-style. The sauces of Sushi or japaneese food is much different, more bar-b-q style. The Chinese dishes rely heavily on the sauteed vegetables. The rice becomes sticky. The south-asian subcontinent is known to be home of most delicious and tangy-spicy food. I am proud to say, this subcontinent cuisine does not lose its touch even it travels 1000s of miles. You still find delicious ilish maachher jhol in Boston, New York, you get awesome Tandoori Chicken in California and Pittsburgh. A whole street in London is devoted Bangladeshi and Indian restaurants. The "foreign"-isation of desi foods is minimum.

I think this is becoming a reflection of a common trend observed in most eastern country's culture. Desperate attempt to cling to the west, be it food, be it clothes, be it sports, be it cars, be it life style, be it relationship with your dear ones. Okay, check , not going into philosophical discussions, lets keep it into food.

So the point that emerges from it is, whether you eat a Sushi dish in Japanese restaurant in US, or a Hunan Shrimp abroad, or be it a Shish Kabob, all of them have travelled a long way from its actual cooking pan, and in the process it has lost its taste. A $6.99 lunch combo. One heavily soya-sossed Hunan shrimp with tons of broccoli and onion, hard fried rice with chunks of scrambled eggs, a tangy soup. Or 4 sushi, one tempura, some lettuce, a salmon, $ 7.95 . Satisfy your hunger, forget about the taste. Pack your taste bud chemicals, enzymes and hormones in a bottle, and send them home. Ask your mother to keep them in a secret place, and ask her to label them " Taste-bud chemicals, when I was young".

Give in to the culture and pace with which the world is revolving. The physics text book may say it takes 23 hours 54 minutes to spin once around its own axis, but it actually spinning a LOT faster. You feel the centri-whatever force, and your taste is feeling that too. So do not be surprised if on one fine morning you wake up, and realising that the driving force is gone. It does not matter what you eat, be it shrimp, kabob, bannana, water, broccoli, grass anything. The empty space in your stomach just need to be filled, the small guys up in the tongue deserve no attention.

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