Vegetarianism is part of upper class hypocrisy: Anita Nair
“There were days when food was a need, but today it’s a huge industry”, opined screenwriter John Paul. He was speaking at the session “Adukkalayilninnu Agola Cafeyilekku” at the Mathrubhumi International Festival of Letters, at Kanakakkunnu Palace, Trivandrum.
Talking on the topic he noted that with the change in lifestyle, people are looking at food as a luxury.” People are distancing themselves from the ethnic kitchen and are taking pleasure in being at a cafe which they find as a part of a cosmopolitan life”, he added. Writer Anita Nair and author and social critic G. Ushakumari were the other speakers. Poet and writer Rammohan Paliath moderated the session.
Talking on the thread, Ushakumari added dimensions of gender and caste to the thought of food. She said food and food habits are interlinked and intertwined with the caste and customs of a place. “We have various cuisines like Adivasi, Suriyani, Namboodiri, Muslim and so on. During the Renaissance period, there were serious efforts to overcome caste barriers through Samoohasadhya and Panthibhojanam. Again, she noted that generally, the kitchen is seen mostly as a place where women suffer but cafe denotes all that is colourful and merry. Global cafes are the symbol of pluralism where women and the marginalised are treated equal and which for them are places of assertion of their identity.
Anita Nair agreed to the point of connection between caste and food and added that for some “being a vegetarian” is a part of elitism. “Food is part of upper caste hypocrisy, every aspect of eating has a theology attached to it” she added. She said she has always wondered over the sub-texts connected to food. Nobody can eat beyond a limit, that way food is a great equaliser and leveller, she observed.