19 May 2008
Bowbazar’s street food is mouth watering and very affordable. Many a time, before or after our sessions, myself and Bina have stopped at the yellow bulb-lit little stalls, and gorged on kulcha roti and paneer for as little as Rs. 8/-, masala muri (with achhar, peanuts, coriander, with one big slice of coconut) for Rs.3/-, gur-badaam (Peanuts rolled in jaggery), hot tawa-baked papad (especially wonderful during wintry evenings), and onion omelettes. As we mentioned earlier, we are working at trying to reconnect with the group which has dispersed at many levels, and this week we thought that writing on street food would be a fun assignment for them.
When the facilitators reached, there was a power cut. At first there were only Tania, Rahul, Robi and Tapos. Later Salman and Tulu joined us. We discussed what we wanted to do today in the open verandah just outside the session room. There was another magnificent norwester brewing, so the journalists decided to keep the assignment short for today ( at the level of appetizers) and do it again properly in the interim, before we again met next Monday. Under a reddish stormy sky with the dust blowing into their faces, things getting blown away and being carried along the old streets of Bowbazar by the wind in its wake, the intrepid six chose their favorite foods. Each was given Rs. 10/- to taste whatever they wanted. Rahul wanted chowmein but, unable to make his way to it, settled for kachori (fried chapatti like things with a stuffing of spicy pulses). Robi wanted to invest his allowance wholly on tea. We are excited about next week when we get to see what they’ve written.
Approach a roadside street food seller of your choice and taste any item that you fancy. While eating, focus your 5 senses on
- The Location (as precise terms as possible, directions to this place, atmosphere, sights, sounds etc. at this place)
- The street food seller ( How he/she looks/talks, oddities of appearance and behaviour)
- The food itself (how it looks like/smells/feels/ tastes/sounds like)
Interviewing the street food seller:
What are the items that you make?
Why did you become a seller of fuchka/jhaalmuri/tarka ruti?
Who taught you to make these?
What were your challenges as you started out?
Why do you think street food always tastes better than home-cooked food?
What s the secret behind your tasty cooking?
What advice do you have for someone just starting out as a street food seller?