Changing Food Culture during Pandemic
The Covid 19 pandemic has hit all the productive industries around the world and the food industry is one of the most affected. The pandemic has devastated the food culture and its variety around the globe and in Kerala too.
Kerala is a state with a variety of food cultures. This is different from each districts to each culture. The food industry in any place is a great asset to the growth of tourism and it is the sole reason why people go out.
Food has always been the reason why people go out and do something for pleasure. The main promoters of this food culture in Kerala are not the well-known restaurants but the roadside eateries or “thattukada” as the natives call it. It is also a major part of the Malayali culture and their heritage.
Dining facilities in restaurants were shut down in the beginning of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the business of restaurants to a very large extent. Online deliveries were the only source of income for the hotel business and that was blooming. The dining facilities were not open till the first nine months of lockdown. And when it started to look up in a small way, the second wave of the pandemic hit.
The manager of Paragon hotel, one of the most prominent hotels in Calicut, says “online deliveries in itself cannot create the rush in culture as well as in business.” The Imperial Kitchen in Thiruvananthapuram also has a similar experience and shut down early. The same is the case with restaurants in metropolitan city like Kochi.
The main source of outing for the working class population in Kerala is dining outside in a good restaurant with amazing food. This joy is what the pandemic took away from the natives. Online deliveries cannot make what a dining restaurant gives a feel.
Femi Ahmed from Calicut misses dining out, as her hobby is to go around the city with her friends and try out new cuisines. She says that cooking on a daily basis made her sick of her own food. Even with online deliveries the variety of food is quite poor and all restaurants cannot be contacted.
So what really is at stake. If the situation doesn’t go back to normal the culture we are discussing will become oblivion as dining out in itself is a big thing we are going to lose. But this will eventually decrease the rate at which people eat out and move to home cooked meals. This is quite evident if we look at the rate at which people started to try various international cuisines, thanks to the internet. Social media is filled with folks of varying age groups flaunting their recipes and pictures of what they cook.
We are not just losing one kind of culture but also bringing a new one. But one cannot replace the other because even if dining out is considered to be unsafe at the movement, can we really say goodbye to that ? This will be difficult to decide because as humans we either never take the path that hurts us or we just get immune to it.
The food culture in Kerala is not limited to just the restaurants. The major taste buds of Kerala revolve around thattukadas. As these were shut down, it has brought a huge financial loss to a large population of Kerala. Long-distance travellers like goods carriers and many other people who work late night had thattukadas as a source of their food, which was affordable and tasty at the same time.
The complete effect of this pandemic can only be analysed after one more year. But the question is will the food culture ever be the same ? Will it return back to how it was or will it get worse? These are the major questions in front of us. All we can do is to wait for time to take its course.