Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Vegetarian caviar is also served

Today I feel like ranting at something totally inconsequential (what else do I ever do, someone is surely asking). Political events these days are way too depressing.

My eye was caught by the following item in the Hindustan Times's supplement for the intellectually challenged, "HT Cafe". It said "xxx Lounge Bar at yyy Hotel is hosting a month long caviar promotion. Guests can indulge in high grade caviar with fine vodka." And then comes the punch line: "Vegetarian caviar is also served to customise the delicacy to Indian tastes".

As customisation goes, this is a classic. Caviar, as everyone hopefully knows, is pickled fish eggs. So what is vegetarian caviar? This, it turns out, is made from algae, and the customisation was done in the West, not at all for Indian tastes. Indeed I doubt there are too many Indian vegetarians who will go for its fishy flavour. It's the vegetarian movement in the West, which boasts pork-sausage look-alikes (and taste-alikes to a surprising degree) made from soybeans, that seems hell-bent on imitating meat products and this appears to be their latest invention.

But imitation is becoming the game in India too. If there is tandoori chicken, there is also tandoori veg. If there are steak sizzlers, there are also veg sizzlers. If mutton rogan josh, vindaloo and korma are the originals, then veg rogan josh, vindaloo and korma are the imitations. In fact airlines in India have perfected the notion - whenever they offer "bashed chicken parts in unseemly gravy" they invariably offer the same dish with "veg" in place of "chicken". I suspect archaeologists of the future will deduce that a strange animal called "veg" roamed our land, and that it tasted surprisingly like a combination of mashed potato, peas, carrots, beans, dozens of spices and truckloads of oil!

1 comment:

Anil said...

And what about the ultimate oxymoron: "Jain chicken"???!!!
(allegedly chicken without garlic and onions, as Jains do not consume anything grown underground). However, as Jains also do not eat any meat, I have no idea how chicken can ever qualify....