I am a big-time foodie; that doesn’t mean that I hog all the time and eat whatever is being served. Rather I have a craving for authentic food. I am so much inclined towards authentic Indian cuisine that I tend to ignore the price and place sometimes. I fancy those places that provide food that satisfies my tongue.
Every region in India has its own cuisine. The dish may be the same, ingredients may be same, but the preparation differs, which brings out the distinct taste in that dish. This distinct taste of a regional delicacy is what attracts me. However, thanks to the cosmopolitan affect, all these distinct dishes from various Indian regions have begun to lose their essence in the recent years. People have started to experiment with dishes and add their feature to it, which further changes the distinct taste of that dish. To people like me who are particular about their food, that isn’t great news!
Recently, I came across a group named ‘Connect with Local’ in Pune, who introduced me to various authentic foods. This certainly was a big relief for me. The Connect with Local website started off with a motive to bring people of different religions and regions together. Shreeram Kunte and Mangesh Wagh, the people behind this concept believe that food is one platform that can attract people from different regions to come together not only to enjoy what they like, but also to exchange ideas and culture among themselves.
The organizers explained that there are two sets of people: the hosts and the guests. Since both parties are don’t know each other, hosts puts up an advertisement on Connect with Local along with the details of the dishes they would be serving with a price per person. Guests browse through the website and seek food events that are happening in the city. Then, they decide to visit an event based on the information provided by the host. They pay, and book a place for themselves. On the day of event, they reach the venue, which is the host’s house and interact.
I was thrilled to hear about such a unique idea! I decided to witness a food event myself and I booked for an event that was being organised at Bavdhan-Pashan link road. The host was serving authentic traditional cuisine of Maharashtra. The menu included Puran poli, Katachi aamatee, Varan bhaat, Aloo wadi, Batataa bhaaji, Papad kurdai, Panchamrut, Naral chatni and Khamang kakadi koshimbir.
Reaching the venue, I was heartwarmingly welcomed by an elderly lady putting ‘kumkum’ on my forehead, to adhere to Indian tradition of ‘Athiti Devo Bhava’. We were served with welcome drink of buttermilk. I was joined by six other guests from different backgrounds. Our hosts ensured that we felt comfortable despite being total strangers. We started discussing and shared our experiences. As we started to converse, I realized that we were no more strangers. At that point I realized that it is not hard to begin a conversation with a total stranger. We are brought up to welcome our guest without discriminating about their origin.
When the food was served, I wasn’t surprised at all. Be it Puran poli, or Naral chatni, every dish was prepared just the way they should be. I could easily make out the distinct Maharashtrian taste of every dish. Since I had eaten at a restaurant that claims to serve authentic Maharashtrian food, I could easily make out that this dinner was far better. Furthermore, I was sitting among people with similar likes and tastes. We relished not only the delicious food served in a homely environment, but also discussing about various things. What more can a foodie ask for?
We Indians feel in pride when we speak about perfect amalgamation of various cultures. We try to blend various cultures together in the name of cosmopolitan. But, we forget that in this blend, we are losing out the authenticity of our culture and cuisines that is the identity of each region.
I am not against two cultures coming together; but I am for preserving the true taste of food that is vanishing in the current scenario. However, with platforms like Connect with Local, foodies like me will never be disappointed. Despite the numerous eat-outs, it is hard to find a good restaurant that can serve you with such authenticity in a homely environment where you can relax and exchange cultural ideas with people from different regions or culture!
Article submitted as part of the Indian Cultural Crusader contest!