I have been waiting to see "The NameSake" (author Jhumpa Lahiri)but now they say it released only in select theaters and none of the theaters in my area belong to this elite group. So I have to wait I guess till it’s on DVD. I have read the book and liked it immensely. I admit that "The Interpreter of Maladies" was better, the short stories more crisp and succinct but I like this one for a whole different reason. I like it because of the oneness I feel with Ashima. The book narrates the story of a young Bengali immigrant couple (Ashoke & Ashima) who immigrate to Boston for higher studies in the early 70's and then the story deals with their settling down in the US, the kids growing up here and with everything that an South East Asian Immigrant has to deal with emotionally
It’s been 3 decades since Ashoke & Ashima made their journey and USA has changed a lot since, for one it’s more open to Asian and South Asian people and culture. Specifically the state I am in is almost like the 29th Indian state ripped apart and placed in the wrong continent, ok almost. I don't have to mix Rice Krispies with peanuts, chili and mustard Oil like Ashima, I get Muri/Mamra and I can get a closer cousin to JhalMuri than she could (not like the JhalMuri in the Kolkata Local Train but close). And Yet I feel the oneness the closeness with Ashima, if she was my neighbor we would be best friends maybe.
Like her I am apprehensive to raise my daughter in a country I still don't know much about.
I have a gnawing fear of the day she might stop responding to me in Bangla, and her accent will be difficult for me to follow (Bangla or Bengali is the language we speak at home, no English there).
I am deep down worried that she will look forward to Christmas more than she will ever do to Durga Puja, a festival close to my hearts, a festival we would wait for with fervor as soon as Summers heat mellowed down.
I don't know how I will explain to her how I with my friends, wearing our Ma's yellow saree, would go puja hopping on the morning of Saraswati Pujo from one school to other as she goes around for "Trick or Treat" on Halloween.
I am at a loss thinking what should I tell my daughter when she goes to her first prom, I have nothing, no experience to share with her. There are so many questions I need to get an answer to before I can even explain to my daughter as she grows up here.
I guess I will figure out like Ashima did and she will too like Gogol.
But even though it has been 3 decades there are some things in the book so true about the bengali immigrant community that I can easily identify with it.
A typical lunch menu that Ashima prepares and Lahiri goes on to narrate is "lamb curry with potatoes, luchis, thick channa dal with swollen brown raisins, pineapple chutney, sandesh molded out of saffron-tinted ricotta cheese"
As I was re reading the book, the "Pineapple Chutney" struck me and that what it is going to be for this Sundays Lunch where couple of our friends are coming over I thought. Perfect for AFAM and perfect for a Bengali Lunch
For Maheshwari the gracious hostess of AFAM at Beyond The Usual, I prepared this in a small qauntity yesterday and its extremely easy and quick to prepare. Sweet, a bit spicy and rich yellow in colour this chaatni/chutney is perfect to complement any lunch or dinner menu
What You Need
Crushed Pineapple ~ 1/2 of a 20 oz can . I used Dole Brand Crushed Pineapple
If using fresh pineapples, use 2 cups of pineapple chopped in small pieces
Dry Red Chillies ~ 2
Mustard Seeds ~ 1/2 tsp (not heaped)
Ginger Julienne ~ 1 tsp
Sugar ~ 1/8 cup
For fresh pineapple, more sugar will be needed, at least 1/2 cup
Lime juice -- juice from a quarter of a lime
Salt ~ according to taste
Mustard Oil ~ 1 & ½ tbsp
Bhaja Masla ~ ½ tsp
How I Did It
Heat Oil in Kadhai/Frying Pan
Add mustard seeds and dry red chillies. Cover if you are afraid of mustard seeds dancing around
When the seeds pop add the ginger .
Add the crushed pineapple If using fresh pineapple add them instead of the canned.
Add salt and sprinkle turmeric powder.
Saute the pineapple for 4-5 minutes and then add about 1 cup of warm water.Also add juice of a quarter of a lime.
Cook the pineapple pieces for 5-6 minutes and then add sugar. Cover and cook till pineapple pieces have softened. This will happen very quick for the canned one. For the fresh this will take about 40-45 minutes.
Sprinkle a pinch of bhaja masla to finish
The movie review for The NameSake from SepiaMutiny -- Read the comments too, very interesting
Trivia:The Spanish explorers thought pineapple looked like a pine cone, so they called it "pina." The English added "apple" to associate it with juicy delectable fruits. South American Indians had a name for pineapple meaning "fragrant excellent fruit," which became the basis for its botanical name: ananas.(Source:here)