On 17th November 2010 the Indigenous Partnership for Agrobiodiversity and Food Sovereignty sponsored its first Food Festival showcasing the agro-biodiversity of the Khasi-Jaintia Hills of Mawphlang in North East India. The Food Festival was organised by William Boys’ Home of Mawphlang and co-hosted by the KhasiJaintia Presbyterian Assembly in the sprawling meadows where food was cooked and displayed. Slow Food International, a partner in the Indigenous Partnership, documented the entire festival.
More than 800 people from 15 surrounding villages and Shillong attended the event, many of whom were local youth. Women chefs from distant Mynso in Jaintia Hills cooked delicious putharo (rice bread), which is usually eaten with Tungrymbai(fermented soya beans cooked in oil and flavoured with garlic and sesame seeds).. The chefs busy at their work readily volunteered information about the different leaves and roots they used in their curries. Amongst the treats on display were rice-based snacks likepukhlein, pu-syep, pu-maloi etc.
Of the 13 stalls, one was for medicinal plants and potions. The KhatarShnong chefs also served herbal tea brewed from the root of a climber called Shiah-Krot. There were several edible herbs and roots, which many of the visitors were seeing and tasting for the very first time.
Carlo Petrini, the Founder and President of the Slow Food social movement was present at the Festival. Petrini expressed joy in seeing such a large variety of natural food available in the Khasi-Jaintia Hills. He was deeply touched by the easy-going hospitality of the local people and encouraged the youth to retain their distinct identity amidst the globalisation of tradition and culture.
To learn more… The Shillong Times (The Shillong Times) Slow Food Movement Guru Petrini in city (The Shillong Times) The Human side of Biodiversity (Slow Food International) Carlo Petriniincontra le comunita’ indigene in India (Slow Food, in Italian) Praise for Khasi culture (The Telegraph) Documentary video Mawphlang Food Festival (Part 1) Maphlang Food Festival (Part 2) KJP Assembly – William Lewis Boys SOURCE: Indigenous Partnership Hosts its First Food and Agrobiodiversity Festival, Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research