27 January, 2021

Once Upon An Erissery

Authentic Malayali cuisine? The old days are gone, now we must digest caricatures.

Saibal Das
Once Upon An Erissery

It looks like one can’t write about food without introducing an element of nostalgia. The food of long ago always seems more mouth-watering. The food I grew up with in an almost inaccessible village in Kerala in the ’50s and ’60s seems to me irreplaceable. I couldn’t get it today if I went back to that village because my mother’s generation has gone, and the cuisine went with it. The next generation of women came in armed with recipes that emerged from a ‘home science education’. They had an inescapably manufactured feel to them, though were perhaps simpler to cook.

But the most important change has been in the farming environment itself. The coming of rubber, which is a stand-alone plantation, into the average farmer’s life in the ’50s, brought almost to a complete end the cultivation of the fruits and vegetables that made up our eating world. Even big trees like the jackfruit were cut down to make way for rubber. Unbelievably, the coconut tree, which dominated our world, went on to...



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