Necessity The Mother Of Food Innovations During War
When fighting broke out between Chinese and Japanese troops in the summer of 1937, it had a very different type of fallout. As Shanghai turned into a refugee camp, authorities were perplexed as to how to feed and care for the refugees, especially the children. Owing to the pressing need, a local food source, the soybean, was transformed into milk and cookies to serve about 15,000 children in a month.
Conflict situations the world over are full of instances like these where food habits are sacrificed at the altar of “forced innovation” and the result is, more often than not, tasty, to say the least. When you encounter such tastes in your life, there is only one thing you can say and that is necessity is the mother of food innovations during war and conflict situations.
Leaving Gurdol Behind
After almost 400,000 Kashmiri Pandits were driven out of the Kashmir Valley in India, owing to violent conflict, among the few things that they could carry with themselves out of the Vale were their culinary habits. One such habit is to cook Gurdol, a Kashmiri vegetable, not found elsewhere in the country, either with fish or potatoes, into a delicious curry. Since Gurdol was not easy to be found anywhere other than Kashmir, the KP families either stopped cooking it altogether or changed their ingredient from Gurdol to plum, which, though not the same, gives “an almost similar flavor.”
French considered it unworthy of serving on their dinner tables for almost half a century. This was because under the German occupation during the Second World War, the French people had to forcibly eat artichoke when their usual food items were unavailable. With such bitter memories in mind, the French just turned their minds off the Jerusalem artichoke.
The Kebab Story
One of the most well-known Mughal era dishes, Kebab, has also had an equally interesting but unnoticed journey to the present day and times. This dish came to be as a result of the continuous military campaigns carried out by the Mughal to consolidate their empire. Soldiers used to ride their horses to the battle field while the horses were strapped with chunks of raw meat. Once the day’s battle was over, they used to cut meat from the chunks and eat them skewered over fire. The practice was later refined with the help of visionary cooks and innovative spices and herbs so that today we get to eat a variety of kebabs like Galouti, Patthar, and Shammi.
Ashkelon and Catfish
When the Ashkelon city on the Mediterranean coast was destroyed by the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar in 604 BC, the inhabitants were restricted in their access to the open sea. As a result of this siege, the Philistines of Ashkelon were forced to consume more of the locally caught catfish instead of the large-sized ones, which they, otherwise, ate after catching it from the open sea.
The forced innovation in food habits, arising out of conflict situations, may not always be to your taste. However, the annals of history, which are often rife with blockades, reduced cultivation, non-existent supplies, show us that this change is inevitable, though not always unpredictable.