Indian ‘Mithai’ (the umbrella term for small, sweet, aromatic cakes and puddings in Indian cuisine) are the focus of my 3D Design Final Major Project. I have researched the various types and a little about traditional celebrations at which they are served, but over the coming weeks I will hopefully grasp these concepts strongly as I spend time looking in-depth into this aspect of Indian culture. The mood board I created this week follows a colour scheme inspired partly by the colours of Gulab Jamun, the classic Indian sweets, which have a beautiful reddish tinge, and also taken from the reds which are so often used in Indian designs and at weddings. The green hues are primarily to complement the key reds in my palette, but may subconsciously have been taken from the green in the famous Boerenbont crockery designs I have grown up with and incorporated as one thread of research in my sketchbook.
I have received a reply from my questionnaire sent out. This first one is from a friend, Bethan Mullard, who is working for Project Trust – a charity which provides teaching placements abroad in impoverished communities. She is spending the year in Orealla, Guyana.
” In Guyana and in particular Amerinidan communities food is a vital part of social gatherings. Its is seen as rude here for you to not feed some one dropping in. Even if only for five minutes. They eat whenever they are hungry. The main food here is rice and a side like meat or greens, roti and bake. You don’t get much food other than that. Its very basic diet and nothing is premade and brought in. No milk or cheese and very little greens. Not really much sweet food. If you want to eat you have to make it. The Amerindian food is cassava bread (which is like biscuit but so tasty) and bush meat. One morning me and susie were getting ready for school and 200 hogs migrated over the river and we ended watching the villages hunt them. Some with traditional cross bows. Everyone was hunting from primary students to those elderly. It was quite amazing. Susie got given hog meat all week. Celebration food is basically the same as the normal food maybe just with a bit more meat. They cook it in a huge wok in huge quantities and everyone gets fed.”
Reading this, I get the strong impression that people’s lives are far more connected to their food than ours are. So many of us would wince, or even faint, if we had to kill the animal before eating meat for supper – it’s so easy for us, all neatly packaged up and cut to a handy size, and we can choose whichever meat we like and whenever we want it. When meat comes along in the form of 200 hogs crossing a river in Guyana, it’s a different story. It’s a rare opportunity, and they needed to seize it. For me, hearing about this kind of thing from a first-hand account is really exciting, and I feel that this has really aided in moving towards the aim of my project; to understand the deeper social context interlinking food and people. I love the fact that at social gatherings the food is a social affair, and manages to feed the entire village using “a huge wok” and cooking “in huge quantities”. It really illustrates what I’m trying to incorporate in my design – a feeling of inclusiveness.