03 December, 2020

Fish Till I Die

Fish, coconut and spiritual bliss

Saibal Das
Fish Till I Die

Fish, to taste right, should swim three times: in water, in butter and in wine. This Polish proverb would delight Saraswat Brahmins who revere fish as the very soul of their cuisine. However, to strike the right chord, they would substitute oil for butter and coconut milk for wine. But, as in the proverb, they would emphasise the centrality of fish.

Many communities in the country consume fish too. But the Saraswats consider themselves as a cut above the rest. The former, they reckon, regard fish as no more than a source of nutrition whereas for them it is the rarest of the rare gifts that nature can bestow on humankind. And they are grateful that nature—the sea, the ocean, the creek—has singled them out as the most privileged beneficiaries of its largesse.

Most Saraswats trace their roots to a village or town located somewhere on a long stretch of the western coast that begins roughly at Mumbai and, after crossing Goa, ends at the southern-most tip of Karnataka. Nowhere else in India is fish and other seafood more...



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