Anna-Sambaar to the American on the BlackBerry?

KIRAN RAO BATNI writes from Bangalore: At a long luncheon meeting with a couple of American visitors today, we did some serious overtime talking about food.

One of the guys started talking about food from Germany, Greece, Italy, Israel, China, Japan, and how he’s had a great time experimenting with the local culinary delights. He mentioned how he loves eating the local food wherever he travels, and how it’s one of the best parts of a job involving travel.

“Local food is actually the best and the safest option anywhere in the world,” he said. “You go to Japan, and you eat sushi. Period. Don’t even try anything else.”

Of course, what he said made eminent sense.

We all nodded wisely.

It took me a while to realise that in Bangalore, what we had ordered for lunch for our American visitors was naan, malai kofta (for the veggies) and chicken tikka masala (for the non-veggies), and that there was actually nothing local about any of those dishes. Wheat is not even South India’s staple cereal!

If local food is best and safest, every dish on the table was “local” to places at least 2,000 kilometers away from where we were sitting in Indiranagar.

I’d like to leave Churumuri readers to ponder the following: Why is Karnataka’s local food not to be seen in so-called decent restaurants? How have we so coolly accepted North Indian food as “local” food? Is wheat the real staple food of the bold, beautiful, rich and famous? Are rice, ragi, jowar bad linen to be hidden from foreigners to save embarrassment?

When will foreigners ever understand the diversity of India? Should they blamed if they think all Indians speak Hindi and eat naan, malai kofta and chicken tikka masala?

Is it wrong to talk about India’s culinary diversity? Should we be defensive about our own delicacies? Should we always take visitors to North Indian restaurants? What has happened to entrepreneurial skills of Kannadigas who feed the world? Is it really so difficult to serve our own food in a neat, classy manner in our own City?

Are we being ambassadors of Atulya Bharat when we forget our own culture, cuisine, and cereal?

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Cross-posted on Kosambari