Nostalgies

Cuisine of Bengal has many nostalgies associated with large varieties of food items and preparations. The green paddy field, river and water-bodies in the Bengal peninsula probably influenced the food habits of Bengalese. As such Bengal is known as a land of 'Fish & Rice' Bengalese are identified as "Mache Bhaate Bangali -মাছে ভাতে বাঙালি". Festivals and occasions in Bengal are also famous and these are characterized by different food & cuisine preparation which are offered as 'Naibedya or Bhog' as well. These have influenced creations of literature, songs, paintings, movies and folklore of Bengal. In the process many prominent characters have been created which may be linked with 'Bengal Culinary' style having a nostalgic aura.

"Damodar Sheth" by Rabindranath Tagore
"অল্পেতে খুশি হবে দামদর শেঠ কি ?
মুড়কির মোয়া চাই, চাই ভাজা ভেটকি
আনবে কটকি জুতো, মটকিতে ঘি এনো,
জলপাইগুড়ি থেকে এনো কৈ জিয়ানো
চাঁদনীতে পাওয়া যাবে বোয়ালের পেটকি?"

Sahityasamrat Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay's [National song Vande Mataram is a poem from the famed novel Anandamath which was written by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee wrote a situation in Devi Choudhurani where Prafulla disobeyed Bhabani Thakur only about her meal on Ekadashi day, her eagerness of cooking fish described the situation of believe of Hindu woman the fish eating depends on lifelong married life.

Love for fish delicacy by renowned Bengali scholar was a myth, fancy of which was also carried over to all and sundry and gradually infiltrated religious rituals also. As story goes, a time when even Vidyasagar picked up a fish head from the plate of Amirtalal Mitra and satiated his uncontrollable attraction to eat. It may be mentioned that Ishwar Chandra Bandyopadhyay did not believe in caste disparities.

From "Nath Sampraday"
"বড় বড় কৈমত্স্য ঘন ঘন আঙ্জী
জিরা লঙ্গ মাখিয়া তুলিল তৈলে ভাজি
কাতলের কোল ভাজে মাগুরের চাকি
চিতলের কোল ভাজে রসবাস মাখি
বেত আগ বালিয়া চুঁচুরা মত্স্য দিয়া
সুকুত্ ব্যঞ্জন রান্ধে আদা বাটিয়া"

many other references of bengali food and cuisine are available in the folk literature and rhymes

The Britshers swarmed the Indian shores as traders. Almost four centuries of their presence left indelible marks on the city, its life style and food habits. The Gora sahib learnt to relish some of the local food and the native Bawarchis learnt how to rustle a proper english meal of course with a touch of indian laddle. Chicken xacuti, prawn temperado, prawn cocktail, shepherd’s pie, gratins and puddings, all british indulgences, many of these a British and Portugese came into Bengal food habits. Mutton chop, kabiraji cutlet and fish fry came into the picture.

"Khai Khai" by Sukumar Ray
খাই খাই কর কেন, এস বস আহারে -
খাওয়াব আজব খাওয়া, ভোজ কয় যাহারে।
যত কিছু খাওয়া লেখে বাঙালির ভাষাতে,
জড় করে আনি সব,- থাক সেই আশাতে।
ডাল ভাত তরকারি ফলমূল শস্য,
আমিষ ও নিরামিষ, চর্ব্য ও চোষ্য,
রুটি লুচি, ভাজাভুজি, টক ঝাল মিষ্টি,
ময়রা ও পাচকের যত কিছু সৃষ্টি

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Few Nostalgic Humourous Songs on Bengal Cuisines

  • "Ami Shri Shri Bhajohari Manna"
  • "Ami Shri Shri Bhajohari Manna"
  • "Jal Khabare Luchi Beltam"
  • "Jodi Kumror Moto"
  • "Jodi Kumror Moto"
  • "Luchi Tommaar Mannaya"

No Bengal cuisine nostalgia is complete without the story of football rivalry between two most popular clubs Mohun bagan and East Bengal, having millions of supporters with ‘addas’ and special food items on the occasion of the match. Many restaurants prepare special menu on these occasions. It is also known as the rivalry between Ghoti and Bangal i.e. Mohun Bagn and East Bengal. If there is a Mohun Bagan vs. East Bengal football match in Kolkata (Calcutta), the price of prawn or hilsa goes up depending on the match result. It’s the story of an age-old rivalry that begins on the pitch and ends on the plate! Football in old days was not only a sport; it was a lifestyle, a passion. From surnames to food habits, dialect to demeanour, fans of the two clubs were radically different.
Football apart, they took pride in their cuisine. The main fight is between hilsa and prawn, so the menu is centered on these two. But there’s a lot of nitty-gritty that also separate these two forms of food. Starters from East Bengal include more of ‘bata’ and ‘bharta’ (raw or sautéed fish and vegetables, finely minced or ground to paste), while those from Mohun Bagan are mainly ‘pora’ (mashed roasted vegetables). Dessert from East Bengal is mainly rice- and coconut-based, while that from the Mohun Bagan side are milk-based. There are many popular songs, rhymes, stories and cinemas etc. which are based on the Bengal’s passion for Football particularly of these clubs and the Chingri and Hilsa.