Why its important to eat anything and everything, when in | Milaap

Why its important to eat anything and everything, when in Aizawl

I wanted to write this for a long time but I need more experience to talk about food in Mizoram.  The past one month has definitely not been enough to experiment with food. This is primarily because of two reasons, one that I live in a girls hostel where the food is just boiled before being served, the dal has more water than lentils and the cook loves to fry potatoes repeatedly for brunch and dinner at least six days a week (the rest of the times she fries cabbage which somehow tastes the same as potatoes). The second reason is that almost all the restaurants remain closed on Sundays and on weekdays, they close by 6 – 6:30 in the evening.  Most of the evenings, by the time I get irritated with dinner and feel like eating something different I have only two things to bank on, biscuits and wai- wai noodles.  This is the survival snack for the entire hostel.  Sometimes I wonder if this lack of proper food is the secret for the perfect figure that girls in my hostel have. [caption id="attachment_1894" align="aligncenter" width="342"]Butchers selling pork Butchers selling pork[/caption]Anyways, coming back to food, some of the Mizo dishes that I have tasted are absolutely delicious. Rice of course is the staple food which is served with different types of meats and boiled vegetables. Unlike dishes in rest of the country, there is no curry or gravy in the food. There is generally a vegetable stew, a meat dish, a dal and rice served in every meal. There are generally no spices in the food except chilis. The chilis in this part of the country are certainly not the ordinary ones which you can eat raw along with the food. They are invariably hot. The famous King Chili from Nagaland is so hot that it is dangerous to touch it with bare hands. The chili is generally pickle-ized or grinded and crushed in a mortar pestle and eaten alongside.  I took a chili pickle once with a meal (without realizing that it could be so “HOT”), ate some of it and then suffered from bouts of coughing, tears and acidity throughout the day. Since then I have become over cautious while eating pickles or any other dish with even the slightest bit of chilly.[caption id="attachment_1896" align="aligncenter" width="274"]A woman selling fresh chili's in the market A woman selling fresh chili's in the market[/caption]One of the first questions that I am generally asked, when I meet people is what religion do I follow and whether I eat pork or other kinds of meat. When I reply that I am an atheist who is open to eating anything and everything, they express a certain happiness and excitement. I am often offered to eat different kinds of meat. Thanks to this, I have been able to taste some traditional Mizo dishes. One of my favorites is “Bai” which is pork boiled with spinach and bamboo shoots.  There is also Vawksa Rep which is smoked pork. Pork called Vawksa in Mizo, is the favorite meat here and it’s important to cook pork on Sundays and at every special occasion or festivals.  Chicken, lamb, beef and dog meat are also common. It’s interesting to walk through the vegetable market where you can spot some of the herbs and vegetables that are common only in this part of the country. There is a variety of flat bean that is called Zongtra in MIzo which literally translates to fallen monkey. It’s a seasonal vegetable boiled and mixed with chili and dry fish or fermented soya. It’s a delicacy, eaten as a side dish. I try to learn how to cook these whenever I get an opportunity because I have promised my friends that I’ll cook (some version/ recipe of Mizo food) for them.[caption id="attachment_1893" align="aligncenter" width="328"]Wild Boar, ready to be cooked Wild Boar, ready to be cooked[/caption][caption id="attachment_1897" align="aligncenter" width="262"]Women selling fish in the market Women selling fish in the market[/caption]I often walk through the bazaar to enjoy the hustle bustle and glance through the latest fashion and trends. But the most interesting for me is the walk through the vegetable market and the butcher market. The hawkers shout at the top of their voices and call you to buy different meats, vegetables, pickles. I look at everything with such awe, because these bazaars teach me so much more about the place than the restaurants in the upmarket area of the city.[caption id="attachment_1898" align="aligncenter" width="346"]Butchers roasting pork before chopping it Butchers roasting pork before chopping it[/caption]