by Bobo Khuraijam
Taste of life. Is not it a wonderful thing? There have been thousands of enquiries on it. As a fall out of this enquiries there are again myriad of interpretations. Each interpretation has got different stances, some totally different and some crisscrossing each other. As a matter of fact, we are not in a better position to dwell into it. But on one aspect we can dwell on it with elan. For that one does not need to turn the pages of the book of wisdom. That we human are endowed with senses which are amazingly different from other living species. Each of the senses interrelates with each other. Among all the senses what has been a fixation for all our Leipung member is the sense of taste. We would agree that animals have also got the sense of taste. Just look at our pet dogs. You can see their change of preference the immediate following day after having a nice meal of chicken. The sad part is that they cannot prepare their own food. They have to eat whatever we offer to them. Well for us, we know the fine art of food production. We grow them or rear them for our consumption. We follow certain rules of permutation and combination. A slight alteration in the amount of the selected ingredient would directly affect in the taste. There are curriculum and institution which impart the knowledge of food preparation. Call it by any other name; we at the Leipung are least interested in that kind of learning. We excelled in eating anything that is eatable. We have no hesitation in declaring what is haowi or haote after any mouthful sessions. That is our forte, we should say.
THOSE SESSIONS: to be honest, we have been a regular visitor to the food festivals. This festival has become a regular feature every year. It got instant recognition from the sarkar and its department concern. They were invited to be part of the Sangai Festival which is held to promote tourism industry in the state. As expected, in each of the festival held so far, the food court has been a major attraction. We would like to give full credit to the group of young innovative people who came out with the idea; the idea to hold food festival. It has not even been half a decade that they first came out with their idea. Before their idea was actualized, they took out a survey to different part of the state. They went to places like Ukhrul, Chandel and Senapati etc. to mobilize our friends from the hill. We could see their presence in quite a good number from the first festival itself. They visited different parts of the valley as well, places like Sekmai, Andro, Phayeng, Moirang and Nambol etc. Each one of the places has got verities of food and beverage which are unique in taste. Remembering all those cuisines we are already carried away to those ahaoba days. Have you tasted: Ngamu sanggom, a variety of fish found in Barak River `“ a special cuisine of the Liangmei community, Changalme from Churachandpur, Utongchaak and sandang from Chandel , Oksha makhong special of Paomei community, Ukhrul`™s Eroi athongba special, Manungshaa ayaiba from Andro, Chahao tan of Waikhong, Mangra heingaan of Wabagai ,Cheng bora of Kakching, Chawai singju of Awang Sekmai? `¦well the list is endless and mouth watering. After having a glance at these items and if you do not feel anything in your mouth, please stop reading. Go see a physician at once. Some of our members opined that people come to this festival with a different look. Whenever there is a mela or anything of that kind, they come with the a priori notion that they are going to negotiate a heavy price for anything they buy. So you can notice a skewed look in many of the visitors. Whereas in food festivals, people turn up with a `ready to nourish`™ and `ready to eat`™ face, therefore a warm face `“ as warm as and as enjoyable as Maroi ga bori ga thongba of an Ushob.
FUTURE SESSION: has got more things in store. We can well assert that these cuisines we enjoy today are gift from our forefathers. They must have gone through an uneasy `fooding journey`™ in order to be able to come out with all kinds of dishes. Some of them must have gone through hardships like food poisoning in their attempt of innovating new Chinjak. Some of them must have even sacrificed their lives for a better and tastier food. We salute to those unsung heroes. We can be proud of the varieties which are available today. We have been told that it is the gift of the civilization. Every civilization has unique stories with unique food. For a tiny population and the kind of dishes we have, we can be certainly proud of it, without being jingoistic enough. We have heard and seen, as they are beam directly through the satellite television, the kind of food that has gone global. Chinese food is already everywhere. So are foods from other countries. In simple term, their foods are an inseparable menu in the hotels and restaurants of good standards. Our friends who have tasted Thai cuisines in five star hotels have claimed that those cuisines are not that finer from our Kangsoi. If that is the case, it is time that we give a thought on how to promote our own cuisines. The coming venture of the innovative youth brings some promises. We are told that the regular food festival which was held at the state level is expanding. They are now ready to go global. They have invited countries like China, Thailand, Korea and Vietnam to take in the food festival. And their acknowledgement of participation has been already made known to the organizers. We hope it would be a new beginning, an opportunity to learn from these countries of how their foods are being packaged and stylized to reach the global standards. We at the Leipung are already prepared to overwork our mouth, this April. How about you?
FOOTNOTE: this time around, we have seen events where mobs go on riot. They destroy houses, to the extent of burning down and even killing the people supposedly involve in the crime. Leipung Ningthou calls it, `khaambi mei gi ngaoramchat wayel`.