There are many ways to measure human progress—GDP growth rate, Gini coefficient, Purchasing Power Parity, etc—but permit me to use an easier method: the taste of Thair-Vade down the ages.
Don’t make faces, I can see.
If the Economist can rate countries by using the “Big Mac Index“, on which we don’t figure because we are gau-rakshaks who can fucking kill, hahaha, why can’t we use a desi yardstick?
So, Thair-Vade it shall be, thank you.
Eleven years ago, today, as a self-appointed vigilante vade-rakshak, I had taken matters into my own hands and filed an FIR on its dangerous slide.
Now, 4,000 days later, it is my bounden duty to report that things haven’t improved one bit.
In fact, they have gotten positively worse.
My friend Sunaad Raghuram and I were at Nalpak in Vontikoppal last week. We were served something so white and so pure it looked like a 3D painting by the Sisters from Nirmala Convent next door.
Yesterday, I went alone to Indra’s Sweet ‘n’ Spice on Kalidasa Road. Those who know Mysore know what a fine restaurant its parent Indra Bhavan on Sayyaji Rao road used to be, with the best ‘upit’ this side of Tipu land.
There was a sexy yoga type sitting next to me, probably Brazilian, definitely Brazilian. She saw the Thair-Vade on my plate and was inspired to order one for herself. I didn’t have the heart to dissuade her from this un-Satvik journey.
Anyway, what’s happened is that Thair-Vade, which in its name suggests an unreal affinity between Tamil and Kannada, but actually sounds better than mosaru-vade or its god-awful Hindi equivalent dahi vada, is no longer hip.
It seems to be on the ventilator in the Intensive Curd Unit.
The problem seems to be that, the machine-made curd that our restaurants are using, so thick and so synthetic that you could easily use it at home in case you have run out of M-Seal, to block a leaky pipe or roof.
The problem also seems to be the seasoning and garnishing.
The art of balancing just the right amounts of hing (asafoetida), ginger, cumin, sesame, green chillies, and topping it with coriander, seems to be vanishing, as nuance departs our cuisine and turns coarse—much like our discourse.
Or, probably the problem just seems to be that we, as consumers, are not demanding enough any more.
Anything goes, because we haven’t seen anything better.
Or, probably, restaurants as producers seem to no more have passion because patrons are into pizza and pasta.
As a Tam-Brahm, and in the interests of long-term Tamil-Kannada friendship, maybe Padma Lakshmi should do something about it on Master Chef.
“Food is very tactile and sensual. If you think about it, it’s the only way you can get into another person’s body without actually touching them,” the woman, who brought Sir Salman Rushdie to his knees, famously said.
That’s the kind of passion Thair-Vade needs, even at this late stage.
Because food is the new sex.