“why is it so, that heritage means only some old structures? Our city has a rich intangible heritage. So, why don’t we work on it? ” this was the primary thought which came to our mind many moons ago. And in one of the parties, I was discussing the same with Mr. G M Kapoor. I was not very sure that he took this seriously. I mean very fewer people in this world take me seriously. But after a few meetings and numerous coffees, Ayan da, Riju and I were sitting together to offer Kolkata something which was long due- a tribute to the culinary heritage.
So, what’s it all about
As I always say, Kolkata is a cultural melting pot. Multiple communities have come here and enriched this city. In fact, more than a building or monument, we get more interest in its food culture. The objective of the culinary heritage trail was to create awareness about the living intangible heritage. Signages indicating culturally significant places has been there in multiple cities globally. And the blue plaque signage in London is one of the most known among them.
Its been there in London for more than 150 years and As per Wikipedia, The “official” scheme traces its origins to that launched in 1866 in London, on the initiative of the politician William Ewart, to mark the homes and workplaces of famous people. It has been administered successively by the Society of Arts (1866–1901), the London County Council (1901–1965), the Greater London Council (1965–1986) and English Heritage (1986 to date). But as per our knowledge, there was nothing like it in Kolkata, and most probably in India. Now as the saying goes, What Kolkata thinks today, India thinks tomorrow. And the work was started soon.
The first job was to decide the criteria for eateries to be included. And after many fights amongst us, it was something like the following:
- Establishments who serve ready to eat food
- Located within KMC limits (for phase 1)
- In the business from 1960 and before
- Still operational and/ or alive in public memory
- Has a historical/cultural significance
- Is an inventor/ discoverer of some food item or the first to popularize the item in Kolkata
The design of the plaque was drafted and the Telegraph came in for the support of the initiative. The shortlisted eateries were contacted for the signing of acceptance and documentation. After all the rounds, 14 eateries were shortlisted for the final day facilitation.
The final list seems as follows:
- Mocambo for Kolkata continental cuisine
- Shiraz for Biryani
- Kwality for Punjabi/ North Indian food
- Dilkhusha cabin for Kobiraji cutlet
- KC Das for Rasogolla
- Girish Ch Dey & Nakur ch Nandi for Sandesh
- Allen Kitchen for Prawn cutlet
- Bhim Ch Nag for Pantua
- Nabin ch Das for Rasogolla
- Eau chew for Chinese
- Paramount for Sherbet
- Sabir’s Hotel for Rezala
- Niranjan agar for Egg Devil
- Indian Coffee house for cafe
This blogpost here talks about a number of eateries in the list
Mr. Pratik Pattnaik did a fantastic job of doing all the legwork and the newly renovated and relaunched Fair Lawn Hotel came as the hospitality partner for the Calcutta culinary heritage awards 2019. the evening was all set in the cozy lawn, while winter was just setting in.
Certificates were presented to the participating eateries and it was an air of happiness. Many of the eateries have been serving the taste buds of Kolkattans for more than a century, but probably this was the first time that somebody was recognizing the effort. I am asked multiple times that why do I get into such things … and the answer always remains the same. Being a food blogger, we are a keeper of records of history- the food history of a city, a locality, food traditions and more. So, it comes as responsibility for us to enable the visitors and insiders to know about our culture. Maybe, the next step will be to design a more detailed trail and to add geo-tags for easy searchability. But, that’ll be a different project altogether.
Please check the TOI newspaper coverage here
So tell us of any eateries in your neighborhood that come under these criteria and get them registered. We’d like eateries to nominate themselves for the 2nd phase and the process will be announced soon. Till then, let’s share stories.
Bon apetit !!!
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