Vantage point

Saturday, June 02, 2007

We Shall Overcome

I long for a day when I walk into an Indian restaurant in the United States, open the menu, and find it to be free of that ghastly bastardized abomination called mango lassi. Mango lassi represents all that is wrong with Indian cuisine served in this country. In nature, looks, consistency and taste, it is as ghastly as the desserts one strives to avoid at other restaurants.

In fact, probing at an even deeper level, the mango lassi is symptomatic of the kind of Indians you meet in this country that you want to bash over the head with a blunt instrument. The kind that are ever so eager to pander to the stereotype as long as it is non-offensive in nature. The kind of Indians who are intellectually and creatively bankrupt enough to make videos like "laddoo shop"(to the tune of candy shop) and "curry and rice girl"(to the tune of hollaback girl).

People call second generation Indians ABCD... American Born Confused Desis. I don't find ABCDs to be even fractionally as confused as these people... IBCDs. Either stick to the original. Or embrace the West wholeheartedly. No shame in either. But what is the point in coming up with something like mango lassi?

Lassi by itself is a work of art. One of the great concoctions to come out of our country. The Swiss and the French.... and even the Wisconsonians can ferment at the mouth preparing different types of cheeses. Their efforts are appreciable and laudable, but they do not come close to bagging title of the "best dairy product" which squarely rests with the lassi. While purists will prefer the sweet lassi, it's lesser known cousin, the salty lassi is delightful in its own way.

And the Indian mango is undoubtedly the king of fruits. Its aroma, colour, pulpiness and the fact that it has just the right level of sweetness is unmatchable.

Whoever had the satanic idea of mixing those two together was definitely an IBCD who should be tied to tree in the middle of the woods and be forced to listen to "laddoo shop" and "curry and rice girl" on loop till he pulls all his hair out. The mixture negates the best of what each ingredient has to offer and is nothing but a frothy, viscous, and overly sweet monstrosity that only a sugar-starved diabetic will relish.

No wonder you hardly ever find it back in India. Forcing those two regal food items into a congress and then ingesting them as such would amount to high gastronomical blasphemy.

There is no doubt in my mind that the vile drink enjoys popularity primarily among non-Indians, as they form a majority of the patrons of an Indian restaurant in this country. But one day we shall be numerically more powerful in this country. And while influential Indians presently amuse themselves by lobbying for trivial matters like H1B visas and nuclear agreements, one can only hope that future generations will have their priorities set right.

One day in the not so distant future, we will rise as one and expunge mango lassi from the menus in Indian restaurant and send it to a lesser and more fitting place.

Denny's maybe?