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Global Edition: Forgotten cuisines and delicacies of the past - #AskAnAji

“Don't eat anything your great-great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food.” – Michael Pollan.

All over the world modern replacements like processed foods have taken over many traditional recipes that were once an integral part of global cultures. As an attempt to bring back the memories of those forgotten foods and with the hope that they will make their way back to the dining tables, we collected answers from elders around the world to our first #AskAnAji question. The older generation have enjoyed eating and making these cuisines in the past and are now sharing with us the delicious memories and recipes.

The question was:  “What are the traditional cuisines/delicacies that they (elderly) ate when they were kids and those are now almost forgotten. How often they used to make momo when they were kids-- or is it the late trend?”  (Prashanta Khanal, environmentalist and entrepreneur based in Kathmandu. Asked on 2 July 2018, via Facebook)

With hibias (whitish), cubios (red)

With hibias (whitish), cubios (red)

Bibiana Vasquez is Founder and Director of Wings of Consciousness. Her mother Blanca, 75, from Colombia says “I grew up eating  ‘cubios and hibias’ at my grandparents’ house. Our popular delicacies back in the days used to be these roots that are high in nutrition. Although they are still available in the market, we don’t really eat them anymore. They have lost value over time. Nevertheless, I am happy to share that because of their geographical location in the Equator zone, we have variety of fruits and veggies to choose from throughout the year.”

Mona Mehta, Global Gender Advisor at Oxfam GB, from India shared with us the two special cuisines that her mom Niranjana, 86; her aunt Kokila, 85; and her uncle Nitin, 75 reminisced about over a dinner conversation in their house in Mumbai:

“The first dish is called Chokha no Rotlo (rice cake). It's made of coarse rice flour, finely chopped potatoes, green peas, coriander, fresh grated coconut, ginger, green chillies, salt and turmeric. The ingredients are mixed with some water and kept aside. Then baked. Originally they would put it on a coal sigri and also put some coals on the cover to bake evenly.”

Another dish less popular now is called Fajeto which was usually made during Mona’s great uncle's birthday celebrations. “Fajeto is made by washing of the last bits of mango juice from the skin and seed of the ripe mangoes (post juice extraction) and usually eaten with rice. A number of spices are added to this mango-water and it's heated till it's boiling. It has a delicious sweet and spicy flavour and it's light so perfect with a meal that includes mango juice. The story goes that this dish was made only by 'baniya' households as they wanted to extract the last bits of mango juice from the mango. Leaving nothing for the goats and cows to eat!”

Heshani Ranasinghe is Gender Justice Advisor in Oxfam in Sri Lanka. Her mother Anoma Nanayakkara, 66, from Kandy, Sri Lanka says that she remembers eating Wandu Appa for breakfast with her grandma growing up. Wandu Appa (steamed hoppers) is a traditional Sri Lankan dish made of rice flour, coconut and sugar. “The recipe is a bit complicated but I remember my grandma making it with ease and much love. Wandu Appa is still available in local shops but it is incomparable to homemade version.” Good news is Sri Lankan government is supporting women farmers to open food outlets across the country to sell diverse traditional food that are being forgotten, including Wandu Appa. This is part of their national campaign to create awareness and interest among new generation about traditional food that are gradually disappearing.