September 26, 2008

Food Hubs and Local Histories . .

I re-visited Mount Road recently. To check out Bombay Halwa House, once our favourite destination.
As the name suggests, this place is known for its halwa. But there are a few other things on its menu which has drawn people for over 50 years.
Bread and peas masala is one.
I was there on a Sunday and the young man who was in charge did not seem to be in a particularly good mood.
I had hoped to engage him in a conversation and catch up with the House's recent development. I failed.
Wonder if it was the rain which had affected his business or was he simply bored with this trade?
Restaurants and eating joints have a lot to do with our lives. What they do, how they entertain people and their colourful histories tell us who we are.
I wanted to check out another place. Yes, an eating place in the busy Thousand Lights area of Mount Road.
The Irani Restaurant, a hole in the wall, was the last refuge of all those who had closed work after 11 p.m. and wanted to satiate their hunger with simple, hot, good food. Parathas and mutton kurma or ‘paya’.
This Irani which had maybe six tables would be busy at that time. And this was the pre-BPO and IT boom era.
The Irani, which morphed into something unremarkable, is no more on the map of our city.
This Navaratri I intend to explore the Mint Street and Sowcarpet area to find out if the old has given way to the new and why.
The street food business is still alive and well in those parts. And a few new restaurants have opened up, offering authentic Gujarati and Marwari food.
The festival season should be the best time to explore.
One area where street food can become a huge draw if some things were done right is the Triplicane-Zam Bazaar hub.
You may not get the best biriyani and kebabs here now because the fast food joints compromise a lot.
But if we were to clean up the inner streets after dusk, cut off the traffic, put out the tables and benches and begin cooking in the nooks, we would have a great food destination.
Doable?

1 comment:

bitterscotch said...

a certain charm does lie in exploring the city and trying to discover eatouts. that said a food street is also a great idea, if we can have street cuisines from around the world.

Btw Vincent, you really need to publish your email id. do you know about the schmidt memorial cleanup
http://bitterscotch.wordpress.com/2008/09/14/who-painted-the-schmidt-memorial/