When such well intentioned requests are made, it would a gross dereliction of duty if such requests are ignored. So here is a post. On a hot thing that defines Mumbai in a particular way.
The Vada Pav.
The national food of Mumbai goes by the name of Vada Pav. Just before it sinks into the alimentary canal, this is how it looks.
The picture may not be pixel perfect, but that’s natural. If one hand is to hold a Vada Pav and another is to hold the camera and click and you expect a nice picture at that, well, you are the latest version of a cruel satan!
Its like putting a bone before a dog and asking it to stand on three legs to deserve the bone ! Only behavioural scientists do that. ( And promptly apply the results to man and being correct at that too. Quivering with joy before something as soulfully sinfully filling brings alive taste buds, that they almost jump out of the tongue, is a natural consequence of how an average Mumbai mind works.
A Vada Pav is a concentrated mega dose of mega carbohydrate. The next best alternative to carbohydrates being sold in a vial or something. Atleast that’s the image that comes to the mind. Its filling. Its fattening. Given those two attributes, it naturally follows that it is inviting and tasty as hell.
Its not as though its is a culinary delicacy, which is made by a chef sporting a huge white cap, aprons, gloves and such other paraphernalia. Vada Pav defines quintessential Mumbai : Fast, Quick, On the Go food ! Made by anybody, sold by somebody. Eaten by everybody. Almost everybody !
It’s a forerunner of the burger. Except that the bun is connected. Or perhaps, one bun split into two. Perhaps holding two buns, pav and getting into a train was a balancing act of some repute back in 1971 when the Vada Pav is purported to have been introduced. Or perhaps it was one more stock keeping unit to manage ! So there, one bun, cut into two, with a filling thrown in !
The filling itself is a deep fried mix of mash potatoes and gram flour! Make that DEEP FRIED. A zillion bubbles that surface in that hot oil as a practiced hand juggles all those potato and such else !
A Vada Pav is had, usually on the road. Usually, while waiting for the bus to arrive, with the tongue swirling with the vada while spitting out abuses at the bus driver who is late today ! Or as the train leaves. Or when the regular lunch has been eaten up by an empty conference call and all that remains is dreams of a ‘what could have been’ at lunch today ! In such times, the roadside Vada Pav is the saviour. Or many this is staple diet !
That is a typical roadside stall. The bun separated from the Vada, with old newspaper cuttings, which soon will be used as a wrap cum plate, before it disappears into the inner layers of a sedate body. After which the newspaper doubles up as a tissue. Now run !
In Ahmedabad, there is another version to this. Where they throw in cheese. Giant slabs of cheese are tossed on to hot plate, reminding you of thick slabs of ice in Antartica, that break off and fall into the sea and shown with immense clarity on National Geographic ! The global warming effect comes to the vada pav !
The Vada Pav is not necessarily a culinary challenge that an accomplished chef will warm upto. It is far more than that. It is a mix of culture, commerce, carbohydrates.
Yes. All of that, deep fried.
Dear P, that’s a hot thing that defines Mumbai. Ok ?