Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Leaven Me Alone!

A few months ago, I saw a poster for a Korean restaurant in Pune that advertised nourishing fermented food.

When I visited a few weeks later, I found the food awesome, and the service even more so.  Lots of personalised attention; one of the waitresses even hung around to spoon (chopstick actually) food into my daughter’s mouth, whenever she got distracted.

It could have been because we were the only diners there. 

Today, I looked for the restaurant on an online food guide and it doesn’t seem to be listed anymore.

I wonder how responsible the word fermented was for this fate. Is this what they mean by a errr cultural mismatch?

In several Indian languages (the ones I claim to know anyway) fermented is a synonym for spoilt, gross or fit for the bin. 

In Pune, it’s a popular adjective for nasty, sarcastic people. 

In Malayalam, when you’re humiliatingly defeated, you’re described as soured and fermented. Even assuming that in that highly literate state, they might be referring to lactobacillus or some other obscure bacterium and not yeast when they say soured, the direction remains negative. 

That’s unfair. Not to the beaten or nasty people around, but to all the fermented food and drink we consume to distraction. 

Besides the ubiquitous sliced bread we hate at least twice a week, we consume paav and wine till our livers squeal.  Ok even if we blame these on nasty foreign rulers, we still have a lot of fermented foods indigenous enough to make the ‘make-in-India’ movement as smug as a guthli.  

Is it fair to associate losers and boors with our very own dosas, idlis, naans, khameeri rotis and appams? 

Hmph! I am off to the kitchen to sulk. Shall return with a batch of ‘fermented’ recipes.

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