Friday, February 17, 2006

How exactly do I explain 'Chiwdaa' to Americans? The best I can do is tell them "This is the Indian equivalent of trail mix, the spicy version. Eat it (but not too much of course; it's supposed to be for meeeee) and you will grow healthy, wealthy and wise..."
I also have to convince them that the silver foil on top of Chitale Barfi is edible, and that no, even though the whole thing looks like raw fish because of the foil, it's not.

As for my advisor, he was persuaded to take a bite only after discussing the chemistry of Silver 1+ in the human body with me.

God save dem Americans! ;)


Blogger Sumedha said...

About the silver foil; is it really harmless :P
I've come to take it for granted, but maybe I shouldn't...

6:41 AM  
Anonymous Madhura said...

Hey!!! Americans is OK! I had trouble explaining what chiwada is to my tamil friends! they nsisted on calling it "mixture" and that was quite different rom chiwada really!!!!

12:36 PM  
Anonymous Chetan said...

I had faced a similar problem with serving Kaju katli. I got frustrated while explaining that it won't 'poison' them. Besides it was at a time when I was new here and hadn't quite gotten the hang of the culture. The blunt manner of their scepticism really had hurt me then, since as an FOB I interpreted it as rude and display of total lack of trust in a friend. I found the manner of scrutiny very condescending. It was only later that I realised that probably as Indians we are conditioned to conform to situations even when we aren't comfortable, so as not to hurt the other person while here they are just plain speaking their mind and not necessarily mean to hurt you.

Another funny thing happened when one of my friends thought that the kaju katli would taste better if it was a little warmer rather than eating it straight out of the refridgerator and therefore put it in the microwave for 10 secs only to witness all sort of wierd sparks and sounds because of the presence of silver. An upshot of this was that it convinced them that it was indeed silver and not something that looked like it.

By the way Chitale cha naav aiklyavar jaam paani sutala tondala!

7:50 PM  
Blogger Ashutosh said...

Interesting experience, and I can imagine your dismay! I completely agree with this perception of Americans which it took me some time to understand too; they speak their mind in a way which is completely innocuous but which may easily hurt someone of our mentality.In India, we somehow reflexively get miffed when someone is very frank...

Madhura: I think Tamilians have enough number of complicated items in their culinary list for them to get an intuitive feel of Chiwdaa! But yes...mixture does not do it justice, especially to something as rich in its essence as Laxminarayan Chiwdaa :) (My roommate is a Tamilian, by the way :)

4:13 PM  
Blogger Ashutosh said...

Sumedha: I am quite positive it does not have any observable side effects. In fact, I am pretty sure we ingest more silver through repeated use of a silver 'bhanda' than through silver foil on barfi. But you are right..we do take many things for granted!

4:14 PM  
Blogger gawker said...

Why would you even think about giving away your chitale barfi? That just doesn't make any sense. In fact, one should applaud Chitale for adding the ominous silver covering to their barfi that might dissuade people other than yourself to take a bite from it.

5:58 AM  
Blogger Hirak said...

It's a better idea to offer them as 'blind tastings' as the Melody ad suggests.

10:55 AM  
Blogger Ashutosh said...

Hirak: I figure that if I warn them before I let them chew on it, they may not hurt me as much through the proud tradition of suing, should something go wrong.

gawker: you got a point there.

10:21 AM  
Blogger Hirak said...

Something go wrong in chiwdaa and barfi?

3:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chivada = rice flakes savoury with spicy seasoning

Barfi = condensed milk based flavoured sweet meat

6:44 AM  
Anonymous anya said...

ha. very interesting. check out for more on warming up kaaju katli!!

I think the foil is okay as long as it is indeed silver. However, I can't help suspecting some manufacturers may be using an aluminium wafer instead of a silver one .. and we definitely dont want to be ingesting any AL.

12:41 PM  

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