News
 International
   Global Views
   Asia-Pacific
   America
   Europe
   Middle East & Africa
 National
 Embassy News
 Arts & Living
 Business
 Travel & Hotel
 Medical Tourism New
 Taekwondo
 Media
 Letters to Editor
 Photo Gallery
 Cartoons/Comics/Humor
 News Media Link
 TV Schedule Link
 News English
 Life
 Hospitals & Clinics
 Flea Market
 Moving & Packaging
 Religious Service
 Korean Classes
 Korean Weather
 Housing
 Real Estate
 Home Stay
 Room Mate
 Job
 English Teaching
 Translation/Writing
 Job Offered/Wanted
 Business
 Hotel Lounge
 Foreign Exchanges
 Korean Stock
 Business Center
 PR & Ads
 Entertainment
 Arts & Performances
 Restaurants & Bars
 Tour & Travel
 Shopping Guide
 Community
 Foreign Missions
 Community Groups
 PenPal/Friendship
 Volunteers
 Foreign Workers
 Useful Services
 ST Banner Exchange
  Asia-Pacific
What’s Cooking in Kitchen: Peace or Conflict?
Special Contribution
By Shobha Shukla
Conflict Kitchen

(CNS):I recently read about an innovative takeout restaurant in Pittsburgh, called Conflict Kitchen, which only serves cuisine from countries that the United States of America is in conflict with. This landmark eatery was begun by three Pittsburgh artists - Jon Rubin, Jon Pena and Dawn Weleski - who aptly call it a "public artwork experiment", with the objective "to see how we can get past the conflict that is going on between governments and introduce people to the everyday life and culture of these countries." Till now, it has featured dishes from Iran, Afghanistan and Venezuela, and future iterations hope to focus on North Korea, Cuba and other countries. This unique synthesis of food, art and sociology, is indeed a novel attempt in forging friendships between people of the so called enemy territories, by creating a platform for discussions of international conflict, culture, and politics over a meal.

Unfortunately in India, we see more of a kitchen conflict fuelling family discords. Instead of acting as a unifying factor, food in India whets the appetite for skirmishes amongst the deadly trio of mother-son-daughter in law, as well as between communities. Many a battles have been lost and won (depending on which side of the family you represent) on the hot beds of the kitchen turf. I have yet to come across a married Indian woman, who, at one time or the other, has not been the recipient of this clichéd statement: ‘You cannot cook like my mother’. There is nary an Indian woman who could come anywhere near to the culinary expertise of her ma- in- law. And yet an Indian man comes of age (for marriage) when he starts working in a place away from his parents, and yearns for home cooked food. It is a better bargain for him to look for a bride rather than hire a cook.

Thus steps the new woman in his life to make her way to his heart through his stomach. But, India is a land of colorful culinary diversity. Each community and caste, nay family, boasts of its own unique recipes and cooking style which, in their eyes, is the world’s gold standard benchmark. So, one family’s food becomes another family’s poison. Woe be tide the newly wedded daughter-in-law who cannot cook the lowly potato or the bottle gourd in the manner in which her newly acquired relatives are used to!

'To put or not to put' becomes the biggest dilemma of her life, be it onions, tomatoes, green chillies, spices—the list is endless. So differently developed are our taste buds and culinary preferences that no two families cook any one vegetable the same way. An interstate or inter religion marriage further stokes the fires of derision and rebuke. Now, one may have a fish eating bride left to rummage in the kitchen sink of a plant eating house hold which cannot even tolerate the smell of onions/garlic; or a coy vegetarian newlywed battling her tears from the aroma of a freshly made omelette. This kitchen conflict also finds space in most of our soap operas on the idiot box, which revel in depicting designer kitchens of filthy rich families where daughters-in-law, dressed in all their fineries, spend their days stoking the kitchen fires, and chopping, cutting, and brewing intrigues against each other.

All this may seem ridiculous, even inane, to the Pittsburghers who are making a valiant attempt to reduce international conflict, through their novel experiment for a synthesis of food, art and sociology. We need to learn a lot from the concept of Conflict Kitchen where recipes from enemy countries are being used to replace the feelings of hatred with those of tolerant understanding. The Iranian kubideh (minced meat kabab served in freshly baked barbari bread with onion, mint, and basil), Afghani Bolani Pazi (homemade afghan turnover filled with pumpkin, spinach, lentils, or potatoes and leeks),and Venezuelan Arepas (homemade grilled corn cakes served with a variety of fresh fillings), are some of the past takeouts from this kitchen which have been well received in their custom designed wrappers, that include interviews with Iranians, Afghans, and Venezuelans on subjects ranging from the food and culture of their respective countries to the current geopolitical turmoil.

India makes a good study in contrast, where there are still many households who would not partake of a meal touched or cooked by members of certain communities and religions. To be a meat eater or a vegetarian maybe a personal choice, but to ridicule / despise food on the basis of who cooks it and in what style, only shows ones intolerance and prejudice. Eating is a divine fine art wherein each morsel of food should be savoured and thanked for, and not a bit of it wasted. It should not be of much consequence if the color of the gravy is a little too red/white/yellow; if each grain of rice clings or separates from the other; if the spinach leaves have been finely or coarsely chopped; if the cooking style is different from ours. Family recipes may be no less than heirlooms for us. But we have no right to denigrate those of others.

Food should not upset our appetite for tolerance and love, but break the mental barriers that alienate us from other diverse cultures and communities. Before crossing international borders we need to break our regional/community/caste food prejudices in order to enjoy with equal relish the innumerable varieties of delectable cuisines, irrespective of the social, religious and economic status of the kitchen in which they are cooked.

This coming New Year let our food preferences not create obstacles, but get past human conflict and remove cultural ignorance. Let us resolve not to chop relationships, brew intolerance, simmer hatred, or bake corruption. Instead enjoy the Kashmiri kahwa (spiced green tea), the Bengali mishti doi (sweet curd), the Lakhnawi kebab and roomali roti (handkerchief thin bread), and the South Indian dosa, along with myriad other cuisines, with equal relish. Ate a spoon of love, a pinch of sincerity, and a dash of sensitivity will make all food a delightful eating experience, in which we share across the table our passions, hopes and fears, irrespective of caste, creed, religion and nationality.

Wishing all of us a very peaceful, tolerant, honest and healthy 2012! (CNS)



Related Articles
    Stop This Shaming of Menstruation
    Complacency Breeds Failure: Consolidate ...
    For Age Is Opportunity No Less Than Youth ...
    New Study Pegs the Number of TB Cases in India ...
    Self-stigma: Let Us Do More Than Just "Ttalk ...
    We Cannot Eliminate TB If We Leave Children ...
    MDR-TB Treatment Rgimen: Short Indeed Is ...
    A Plain Face Can Take the Sheen Out of Deadly ...
    Strike at the Root of the Problem to Kill TB
    Antibiotic Use Is Driving Antibiotic Resistance
    Big Push for Transgender and Hijra Welfare
    Where There Is a Will There Is a Way: Teeja ...
    Lung Cancer: Difficult to Diagnose, Difficult ...
    Long Road to Justice: Human Rights of Female ...
    Medical Malpractices: Is There Light at the ...
    Overcoming Roadblocks in Translating ...
    Management of Respiratory Diseases beyond ...
    Gender Justice to Be at the Heart of ...
    Connecting the Dots: Tobacco Use, Diabetes, ...
    It Is Time To Control Asthma
    Call for No More New HIV Infected Children
    Smoking Goes Electronic
    Break the Silence around Cancer
    How Can You Treat Your Illness Unless You Take ...
    Asthma Medicines Still Unaffordable for Many
    New Technique to Prevent Diabetic Lower-Limb ...
    Cycle Beads: The Bead String for Family ...
    Beware: All Forms of Tobacco Are Harmful!
    Mother's Milk Is the Best Nutrition for the ...
    Where Is The TB Quilt, Nay Mask?
    Hello, This Is Nature’s Call From Garbage ...
    Tuberculosis: Ugly Scar on Beautiful Childhood
    Towards A More Enabling Environment for ...
    Feed Your Child Well: Prevent Pneumonia
    Costly Medicines Mean Debt or Death for People ...
    AIDS Epidemic at a Critical Juncture in ...
    Watch Your Tongue Mr. Minister!
    Free Trade Agreements: A Threat To People's ...
    In The Pursuit Of Healthy Happiness
    Empowering Rural Women
    Say Yes To Life: Say No To Tobacco
    Homophobia Is A Human Rights Issue
    Viva La Woman Power
    Rubbish Rubbish Food and Embrace Healthy ...
    Of Music and Divinity
    Wake Up Call on Childhood Obesity after Years ...
    A New Hope of Life for Our Ailing Education ...
    Reminiscences of Egypt
    Do Not Break the Nucleus
    Whispers of Sanity in the Frenzy of Madness
    Tobacco Cessation Can Piggy-back Ride on ...
    In The Spirit Of Freedom (from Tobacco)
    World Conference on Tobacco or Health to ...
    Requiem for Purity
    Rhapsody 2008 -- a Symphony of Different ...
    'Diabetes Doctor Is at Your Doorstep' in ...
    Activists Decry India's Deferment of Pictorial ...
    South-East Asian Diabetes Summit to Open Up in ...
    Special on Universal Children's Day
    Whither The Light of Democracy
    The Wrath Of God
    World Food Scarcity and the Challenges of ...
    Victim of Terrorism -- the Common Man
    Teachers' Day: The Sacrificial Goat
    Hiroshima Day: Let Us Worship Peace and Shun ...
    Whither the Innocence of Childhood?
    Food for Thought -- on World Food Day
    Love Is the Missing Link in War-on-Terror
    Irom Sharmila: The Iron Lady
    India Poised And Shining
    Is It Just Another Day in Life of Indian Woman?
    He Has His Cake and Eats It Too
    To Be Young, to Be Married, and to Be in India
    The Mad Mad World of Ads

Other Articles by Shobha Shukla
    A Plain Face Can Take the Sheen Out of ...
    Where There Is a Will There Is a Way: Teeja ...
    Long Road to Justice: Human Rights of Female ...
    Watch Your Tongue Mr. Minister!
    Free Trade Agreements: A Threat To People's ...


Ms. Shobha Shukla has been teaching Physics at India's noted Loreto Convent, and has written for The Hindustan Times and Women's Era in the past. She serves as Editor of Citizen News Service (CNS). She can be contacted at shobha1shukla@yahoo.co.in)

 

back

 

 

 

The Seoul Times Shinheungro 25-gil 2-6 Yongsan-gu, Seoul, Korea 04337 (ZC)
Office: 02-555-6188 Email:seoultimes@gmail.com
Copyrights 2000 The Seoul Times Company  ST Banner Exchange