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10. National Food

I believe that we should be able to accommodate ourselves to the food eaten in the provinces other than our own. I know that this is not so simple a question as it appears. I know southerners who have made Herculean effort to take to Gujarati food and failed. Gujaratis will not take to the southern mode of cooking. Bengal produces dainties which the other provinces will not easily relish. If we would be national instead of provincial, we would have to have an interchange of habits as to food, simplify our tastes and produce healthy dishes all can take with impunity. This means a careful study of the foods taken by different provinces, castes and denominations. Unfortunately, or fortunately, there are not only different combinations in different provinces, but there are different styles in the same province, among the different communities. It is necessary, therefore, for national workers to study the foods and the methods of preparing them in the various provinces and discover common, simple and cheap dishes which all can take without upsetting the digestive apparatus. In any case, it must be a matter of shame for workers not to know the manners and customs of different provinces and communities. In liberal households cooks ought to be able to cook foods eaten in the various provinces. Why should not a Gujarati be able to produce dishes which a Tamilian or an Andhra or a Bengali ordinarily eats? I know that we cannot meet at the top. Nor is such a meeting necessary or desirable. Rich people will have not only provincial combinations but specialities designed for their own households. These cannot be universalized. What can be and should be aimed at are common dishes for common people. This I know is easily possible if we have the mind. But to make this possible, volunteers will have to learn the art of cooking and for this purpose they will have also to study the values of different foods and evolve common dishes easily and cheaply prepared.

Harijan, 5-1-1934