After the Shiv Sena and MNS, I read about an upcoming Food Taliban in Maharashtra — a non-political group of people batting for Maharashtrian cuisine :
They have also written to the higher education minister to include authentic Maharashtrian cuisine in the hotel management curriculum offered by various institutes. If the state fails to act on the appeal, they are all set to approach the court.
They’ve also appealed to state-run hotels and resorts to promote Maharashtrian cuisine. I’m fine with that, the state rarely does things that are sensible anyway. But approaching the court to include the cuisine in institutes ? Yeah right.
The report also adds :
Every year, 22,000 students pass out from catering colleges.
I am personally a huge fan of Maharashtrian food. Legend has it that as a toddler, I used to escape to neighbours’ homes to have Maharashtrian food. (Btw, I just had above-average PuraN PoLi at Chaat Paradise in Mountain View — do check it out). But I digress.
What I’m getting at is that Maharashtrian cuisine is hardly ubiquitous for such appeals to make good business sense. And really, what is the difference between enforcing a cuisine in curriculum and the saffronization of textbooks ? Both claim to help preserve an entity. I’m all for such noble causes — just please do it in your time with your money.
While at that, do read this piece “An Attitude to Serve” by the best food writer out there, Vikram Doctor. Pasting an excerpt that gets the crux :
And it is here, I have to say, that Maharashtrian food has often lost out thanks to the disinterest of its restaurateurs in really promoting it.
Many of Mumbai’s first eateries were Maharashtrian, in the khanevals or community canteens opened by workers from the region who came from the end of the 19th century onwards to find employment in the city’s booming mills. Most of the small restaurants I mentioned earlier had their roots in such khanewals, but the point is that they stayed rooted, and never tried to expand or appeal to a larger clientele.
The best example of this is Anantashram which is famous for its simple, but entirely delicious food that’s cooked over charcoal fires and served in an atmospheric house in the old area of Khotachiwadi. But Anantashram is also known for the rudeness of its waiters, who refuse requests to photograph the place and deter any attempts to ask questions.
A few years back Khotachiwadi organised a weekend festival to show off its quaint small backlanes and old wooden bungalows to the rest of the city, but Anantashram refused to participate. And that Sunday it closed, since it was always closed on Sundays, despite the fact that there were hordes of hungry visitors who it could have profited from.
I don’t need to add anything about Maharashtrian entrepreneurship — all I want to say has been said by Pu. La. Deshpande in his essay Mumbaikar, Punekar ki Nagpurkar.