From the Bun Bo Nam Bo in Vietnam and the Ajiaco in Colombia to the Pakodes in India and the Satay in Indonesia; from the Enchiladas in Mexico and the Chicken Teriyaki in Japan to the Baked Eggplant in Greece, the Whisky Pork in Spain and the Roasted lamb in Iceland; from the Pecan Pie in the American heartland and the Brigadeiro in Brazil to the Queen’s Arm in Chile and the Haupia in Hawaii, it’s been a journey through some of the most delectable cuisines, the most interesting people and, of course, some of the most intriguing cultures.
A journey intended only to be one that would tell stories of friends and the food they love ended up telling a lot more. As we travelled through the countries, heard of their cultures and tasted their mouthwatering dishes, it definitely showcased a world of infinite diversity, but subtly and more importantly, it spoke of the many similarities. I was only surprised to know that what I call “tapioca” and is staple to the cuisine of my home-state in southern India is what Cata in Colombia calls “Cassava” and what Flavia, Renata and Fabio love and call “Yucca” in Brazil. It didn’t end there. My signature “Indian” dessert, the Halwa, I understand is no longer truly Indian. Georgina from faraway Greece tells me that “in Greece we make the Halwa too”. I am amused. A friend from the Middle East tells me it reminds him of home when I serve him the Halwa. I am intrigued. I subsequently figure out that the word “Halwa” has an Arabic root, means “sweet” and is very common in many cultures across the globe. Just a few of the many examples proving one cannot but accept that it indeed is a very small world.
It was always heart-warming that irrespective of the place they came from or the language they spoke, every face brightened up the very same way when they talked of “home”, family, friends and how food invariably brought them all together. As I look around at the many more experiences and cuisines we should have covered, but haven’t been able to, I feel helpless and sometimes even guilty, but I hopefully leave you with an appetite to explore and relish more of these amazing cultures. But most of all, I hope I leave you believing that though we’re spread so far and wide, we have a lot in common and are bound together in ways we could never possibly imagine. Once again, as we pack our bags and set-off to make our dreams come true, let’s always remember that any corner of the globe we choose to travel to, we are sure to have a friend and a friend with whom we’ll always find something in common.
It has been a truly amazing experience to travel the world through the many stories and cuisines of my friends. I dedicate this final article to all of you – my contributors. I loved hearing stories of your cultures, your cuisines and the bonds they help you build. The enthusiasm and the excitement with which each one of you has shared your stories has been so wonderful, I truly saw every country and felt every culture through every one of those animated discussions. Thank you to all of you!! Bon Appetite and Love Always.
Niranjana Neelakantan Gupta is an EC Partner. A home-maker, Niranjana enjoys hosting friends, cooking, writing and travelling.