Tuesday, January 5, 2010


‘Not a lot of people know that’ as Michael Caine might say about the fact that Bangladesh is the country of origin of the majority of ‘Indian’ restaurants in UK.

These restaurants are now the most popular eating out and home delivery source of food for Britons.

A clue to the reality may lie in the frequency with which Bengal appears in many of the restaurant names… but not a lot of people know that Bangladesh is, quite literally translated, ‘The land of Bengal’ either!

Food, however, is part of the tradition of BangladeshUnsurprising really, there is an ancient tradition of hospitality, and it is said that if a visitor leaves a house unfed, then back luck is sure to ensue for the house.

Throughout Bangladesh, the diversity of the food is quite extraordinary. You might not think so when, for the dozenth time at hostelries unaccustomed to foreign visitors you are, once again, offered rice and curry. ‘The foreigners like it’, one hotelier claims, and remains unconvinced that foreigners, unlike Bangladeshis, rather like a diversity in their diet. It might help the following customers if you bluntly inform the manger wherever you eat that foreigners might quite like rice and curry, but not for breakfast, lunch and supper, and not every day!. But foreigners are usually too polite to complain.

But from snacks to banquets, and from deserts to the famous and very fattening Bengal Sweets, there is diversity to be found. Far from the least appealing are the ‘bites’ at the roadside teashops. It’s a truism that if the snack is fresh made, and hot, its invariably safe to eat, no matter how unprepossessing the environment.

However, that diversity is also visible in the cake and pastry shops of the ‘international’ cities of Dhaka, Chittagong and Sylhet.

The picture shows a small 24th birthday celebration in the newly established offices of Tiger Tours. The CEO and founder, Abdul-Muyeed Chowdhury, recently retired as Executive Director of BRAC, the world’s largest and most influential NGO in the field of poverty alleviation and human development, more accustomed after a lifetime in public service to ensuring the feeding of the poor and malnourished, sharing a piece of Black Forest Gateau with the birthday girl. Such a scene may be found in any office across the world, but the only difference was the lingering flavour of coconut in the cake. But they don’t have coconut in the Black Forest do they?!

No comments:

Post a Comment