Taste of Life: The collision of traditions and innovation…
The interplay between innovation and tradition is rarely a linear process. The dynamics and tensions related to both demand nuanced attention. Traditions enable or restrict innovative processes, innovation can preserve traditions, be it in the form of knowledge or local cultures.카지노사이트
In April 1929, several advertisements featuring a novel product appeared in Marathi newspapers like “Kesari” and “Jnanaprakash”. The initial advertisements occupied a considerable space on the pages of the said newspapers. The product featured in the ads was a refrigerator – an innovative appliance at that time. The ads proudly announced that after creating a sensation in cities like Bombay and Calcutta, refrigerators were in Poona to give consumers “a taste of modern life”.
Refrigerators for home use were invented in 1913 by Fred W Wolf of Fort Wayne, Indiana. The model consisted of a unit mounted on top of an ice box. Ten years later, “Frigidaire”, an American company, introduced the first self-contained unit.
The brand was so well–known in the refrigeration field in the early 1920s, that many Americans called any refrigerator a “Frigidaire” regardless of brand. The name “Frigidaire” or its antecedent “Frigerator” may be the origin of the widely used English word “fridge”, although it might simply be an abbreviation of “refrigerator”, a word known to have been in use since the early 17th century.
In Europe and America, these appliances did not go into mass production for domestic use until after the World War II. Ads appearing in English newspapers in the late 1930s claimed that 5,000 households in Calcutta had a refrigerator, a number seemingly far–fetched.
Ice machines were in use by breweries, restaurants, and some wealthy households in Poona from the beginning of the 20th century. Refrigerators were talked about in English newspapers after 1925. but were unavailable in the city. A newspaper report in “The Times of India” in October 1927 mentioned that a wealthy Parsee gentleman had ordered two refrigerators for his personal use from Kolkata. His identity was not revealed.
The ads appearing in Marathi newspapers in 1929 indicated the possibility of the appliance gaining popularity in Poona. While the title of the ads read “Colder than Cold” in English, the rest of the matter was in Marathi. They told the readers that the new appliance would keep their food fresh and they would be able to make ice at home in “a few hours”. The refrigerator boasted of the “famous patented self–sealing ice trays”, a “super–powerful compressor”, and “cold control”.
Interestingly, the advertisements had misspelt the name of the brand. Instead of “Frigidaire”, the ad mentioned “Frigidair”. The error could be attributed to the fact that they were placed by the dealer, ML Wadia & Sons, East Street, Poona, and not by the manufacturing firm. The dealer had announced that a free demonstration was available on a day’s notice.
In Poona, the middle–class consumers were yet to become adventurous and demanding. The appliance was clearly unaffordable to most of the city’s population. But whether or not one intended to buy a piece of “modern” equipment, the “dependence” on “modern” appliances was opposed by many routinely. The traditionalists saw it as an encroachment of “western” values.
A couple of months after the first set of ads appeared, a letter was published in “Jnanaprakash”. The author, one Chintamani Balwant from Nasik, demanded clarification about a rumour being circulated in many parts of Maharashtra that had created fears among the public.
The content of the letter reveals that there were two rumours, not one – that, the refrigerator had the capacity to “extract the sattva (essence)” from food, and “transform the nature” of food. After “extracting the essence” from food, Indians would be rendered helpless against the British; the “transformation” of food could be used to the same effect, the writer claimed.
While nothing more has been written about the matter, we can safely assume that the rumours died a natural death. A couple of decades later, ads featuring refrigerators started appearing more frequently.
Seven months after the aforementioned ads were published, a letter was published in “Jnanaprakash”. The proprietors of the “Maharashtra Shabdakosh” (Maharashtra dictionary) had appealed to readers to help them find precise meanings and recipes of certain dishes which were “no longer cooked in Maharashtra”.
The dishes mentioned in the letter belonged to medieval texts like Wamanpandit’s “Seetasvayanvar” (“telchare”, “chirange”, “neerghos”, “meerkute”, “chinchamohar”, “phanole”, “saroli”) and Venabai’s “Seetasvayanvar” (“balpurya”, “sanjorya”, “gharya”, “telachya”, “korawade”, “gulavarya”).바카라사이트
The letter attracted several responses from readers. Some readers came up with their own list of dishes. They had heard about them from their mothers and grandmothers or had read the names in scriptures, but did not know how the dishes looked or tasted. These letters were answered enthusiastically by other readers, often providing elaborate recipes.
One Mr Yadav Madhav Kale from Buldhana sent a strong-worded letter accusing the editors of the dictionary of overlooking the culinary traditions still prevalent outside Bombay and Poona. “We still cook several dishes mentioned in your letter”, he wrote and proceeded to give descriptions of the dishes. For example, “telchya” was the thicker and bigger version of a “puri”.
Kale’s letter provided the descriptions of all the dishes mentioned in Venabai’s “Seetasvayanvar”.
Another letter written anonymously by a woman reprimanded the editors for thinking that the dishes they did not know how to cook were lost forever, she knew how to cook the dishes mentioned by Venabai.
A reader provided a recipe for a dish called “sandai”. Kale corrected the woman– “the honourable lady has provided the recipe for ‘sandage’, not ‘sandai’. To make ‘sandai’, soak wheat in water for five days, grind and extract the sattva. Make flat rounds thicker than papad and dry them in the sun. Fry before eating.”
Letters related to this topic kept appearing for the next few months. Most of the readers lamented the lack of knowledge of traditional food in the current generation. This was attributed to “modern” education which made women ignore the kitchen. Some blamed modern eateries serving dishes like “misal” that had “no connection with the rich heritage of ancient knowledge and wisdom”. “Would bringing back these dishes help inspire the younger generation and inculcate into them patriotism?” a reader asked.
Dishes and recipes disappear over time. Many new ones appear. Some undergo a drastic transformation. Some change in less visible ways. Several factors like geographical events, socio-political changes, economy, religion, emotions, beliefs, and simplicity or complexity of the recipe play a role.
The ads featuring a refrigerator and the quest for so-called “lost recipes” appeared in the newspaper at the same time. The contrast brings into front the constant tussle between innovation and traditions.
While steering towards the future, one need not necessarily dismiss the old and make way for the new, but solely sticking to tradition brings in stagnancy. This Diwali, may we all strive to concurrently achieve innovation and perpetuate tradition.
Chinmay Damle is a research scientist and food enthusiast. He writes here on Pune’s food culture. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org온라인카지노