Stories of rice
Food memories are evocatively plated for an 'edible' project at Kochi-Muziris Biennale
At the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, keep a lookout for a unique food-centric project called Edible Archives, which will attempt to highlight the connections between food, memory and identity. The culinary efforts of four primary chefs and various guest chefs, who are visiting through the three-month run of the art festival, is curated by home chef and food consultant Prima Kurien along with Anumitra Ghosh Dastidar, former sous-chef at Ritu Dalmia’s Diva. The focus of Edible Archives is on rice—especially its many lost Indian varieties.
One of the unfortunate fallouts of the Green Revolution in India was a loss in the diversity of local rice strains that came to be replaced by homogenized, and often hybrid, strains. “There are reports that say almost 1 lakh varieties of rice have either disappeared from India or are cultivated only in very small pockets—most kept alive only through the efforts of farmers supported by various NGOs. One of the main ideas behind Edible Archives was to talk about the diversity of rice in India and its importance in our lives," says Bengaluru-based food writer and consultant Priya Bala, one of the chefs associated with the project. Recently, Edible Archives held a preview in Bengaluru, organized by Bala, where Ghosh Dastidar recreated a food memory of travelling to Bishnupur in West Bengal as a child and sharing a meal with brickworkers—a simple meal of rice, some local greens, and an onion-garlic chutney along with an assortment of small fish caught from a nearby pond. “This tasting bowl was a glimpse of what to expect at the Biennale. Apart from personal memories, we will find ways of connecting to the farmer as well. There is also an attempt to reclaim food and cooking as an art form—we feel that cooking (at home) is largely seen as a feminine pursuit and hence, devalued, and we are happy that most of the chefs involved in this project are female," says Bala.
Edible Archives will run at Kochi-Muziris Biennale at Cabral Yard, Fort Kochi, till 29 March. For details, visit Facebook.com/theediblearchives.