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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Fishy Tales

When it comes to Fish, I'm a Bong through and through! I love fish. So I thought I’ll write a few words about this central & most prominent food item in a Bong’s cookbook/daily menu.

We Bongs have a strong preference for fresh water (river & pond) fish. Amongst Seafish, Pomfret is the one of the few given honour of entry to a true-blue Bong kitchen. And of course the shrimps and the prawns...which though biologically of a different genre have been bestowed the nomenclature of fish (chingri maachh).
No discussion on Fish and the Bengali is complete without the mention of HILSA (Ilish) ...the KING of FISHES. The Hilsa with its unique characteristic of being a sea fish but migrating to the river to breed, is a topic of many an analysis, discussion, debate amongst the Bong fish connoisseur, on the relationship of its phase of life at the time of being caught (i.e whether it was caught from the sea or river) or the river where it met its end (Padma, Hughli, Rupnarayan etc). The Hilsa from the Padma is a delicacy of the highest order.

Another interesting aspect of the Bong & the Fish being, for the Bong, fish is not only staple diet. Fish symbolizes prosperity and auspiciousness in religious and social customs. A Bengali wedding trousseau is incomplete without the fish. The bride and the groom’s families exchange beautifully adorned whole fish on the morning of the wedding day.

Fish is so significant in our culture that it encompasses all phases of our lives. The mourning period (when vegetarian cuisine is eaten by family members of the deceased as a mark of mourning) is officially concluded by the ritual ‘Matsyamukhi’ (literal translation:Matsya=fish; Mukhi=mouth) when relatives and community members assemble and share the first non-vegetarian (fishatarian) meal after 12 days of vegetarian meals.

And last but not the least, fish oil being rich in omega-3 fatty acids is healthy and helps in reducing cholesterol and has various other benefits. So the oilier the fish, the tastier and healthier it is. Which other meat can vouch for such healthy indulgence!!!!
So I’ll go ahead and share some fishy delights!!!

1 comment:

mary said...

Lovely! Receipes are very down to earth, easy and quick. Shall definitely have a go at it.