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Mei Ram-ew Food Festival (Dec 2013)

On the 13th and 14th of December 2013, NESFAS in collaboration with the Indigenous Partnership, Slow Food and the Hima of Mawphlang, organized the 4th edition of the annual Mei Ram-ew festival under the slogan “ A taste of Mei Ram-ew: A celebration of diversity.” Chef Gunjan Goela of ITC, Delhi, was the Guest of Honour. Her remark that the public eatingplaces in and around Shillong are below standards and her advice for a relentless focus on cleanliness, taste and promotion of healthy local food tourism reinforced NESFAS’s belief that Chefs can become strategic partners in building a “good, clean and fair society”. Representatives of various participating communities, including representatives from Nongtraw, Khweng and Wahra as chief guests. There was national participation from organizations that share similar philosophies as NESFAS, as Timbuktu Collective Andhra Pradesh and the Keystone Foundation. The Government of Meghalaya, NERCORMP (North Eastern Region Community Resource Management Project) and IFAD co-sponsored the festival that welcomed 150 communities from Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura, Sikkim, South India and Bhutan. The Institute of Hotel Management (IHM), Bethany Society, Martin Luther Christian University, Synod College, UTM, St. Edmunds College and the Botanical Survey of India also greatly contributed toward the success of the festival. The architecture designed by Ebenezer Syiem, a young and local architect was inspired by the biblical reference of Noah’s Ark and was in premise with Slow Food “Ark of Taste”.

The two-day fest comprised of workshops on millet, honey, organic farming and innovative cooking with local ingredients. Honey tasting, agrobiodiversity exhibitions of unique crops, display and live demonstrations of local handicrafts like pottery and basket weaving, live cooking demonstration and cultural performances made for an enriching experience. Various communities set up retail food stalls while local restaurants like Naga Mandarin and Cafe Cherrapunjee catered to a more plush dining experience. A significant part of the festival was the ‘gift exchange’ wherein the different participating communities exchanged the bounty of their land. The exchange brought the various communities even closer as they all realized a common ground in their responsibility toward the protection of their traditional crops and cuisines. The event concluded with a ‘Disco soup’ where around 70 youth from the participating communities got together to prepare a soup while dancing to disco music.

The event resulted in the formation of strong networks between communities who developed a bond of solidarity through the sharing of knowledge. It also brought about a feeling of pride and empowerment within the communities, who witnessed the revival of their slowly disappearing indigenous foods. Source: NESFAS Report 2013- 2014 To learn more…

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