Circa 9000 BC: The rabbit was nibbling the grass intently, oblivious of the approaching danger. Dodo, on the other hand, took every step with utmost care; his grip on the bow tightening with every hushed movement in the direction of his target.
Circa 2016: A group of friends are lying on a couch, eager to start their weekend on a high note after a week of work. It is going to be a movie night. They have the movie sorted out but not the food. One of them is checking out food apps on his phone – scrolling through scores of restaurants and the food choices they have to offer.
Times have changed but our primal need remains the same – Food. Since the beginning of time, or since that fateful day Eve decided to take a bite of that apple, humans have relentlessly used their intellectual faculties to make access to food constant as well as easier…What has changed in all these years are the dynamics of our relationship with our food.
India is essentially a Hindu nation and therefore most of its food is influenced by the lifestyle dictated by the religion. This explains a huge variety of vegetarian food in the country. The invasion of Mughals brought in the Islamic flavor to the food palette of India. Unlike the Hindus, Mughals were meat eaters. They brought in their own cuisines like Mughlai food, kebabs, korma, biryani etc. Their special cooking techniques were seamlessly adopted into the vegetarian cooking of India. The colonization by the British, French and Portuguese further infused European cooking techniques in the Indian culinary methods. The influence can be seen in places where Christianity was prevalent like Kerala, Pondicherry, Goa, Kolkata etc. Festivals here, celebrated throughout the year, are incomplete without lavish feasts. From north to south, the climate varies distinctly. Since the north sees more seasons, it has more varieties of vegetables and is dominated by wheat. The usually hot South India uses rice and coconut in most food preparations. And of course, no other place in the world uses spices as generously as India does.
Food habits all around the world have been a result of various factors, mainly climate, religion and influences by other cultures. Indian cuisine particularly has been an amalgamation of different ethnicities. From Rogan Josh from the valleys of Kashmir and kebabs of Lucknow to the Dum Biryani of Hyderabad and spicy fish curry of Kerala, the food in India is as diverse as its people. India has had a love affair with food since centuries. People don’t just eat to live. They live to eat. Here, food is almost an extension of your identity; it reflects where you come from. India’s food history is as old as the history of the nation itself. The country has come a long way from the elaborate food cooked in the courts of Delhi and Lucknow and the Nizams of Hyderabad to the exquisite world cuisine served at almost all parts of the country and everyone having an access to it.
Food in 21st century doesn’t just serve the purpose of filling up our belly. It defines much of who we are. Our food choices now are governed as much by technology as they are by geography and history. Would you, then, be surprised if we tell you that our food choices are also governed by our exposure to social media? In this age of social networking, what we eat is also dictated by our virtual friends checking in at a myriad of places as well as modern food businesses thriving on marketing-boost offered by social media. After all, you are constantly judged on your taste and lifestyle.