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On an ordinary day at the Sarkar Villa in Northern Kolkata, my Jethu* and Boroma* work together to prepare an extraordinary Bengali dinner. From market to machete to meal, the fresh and vibrant ingredients are bought, cleaned, cut, spiced, stewed, and served all within the course of an afternoon.

Follow Jethu on his journey through the curated displays of produce and fish at the local bazaar. Walk with him over the carpet of interwoven scales and blood. Smell the thick stench of prawn and hilsa* guts. Try to count all of the varieties of leafy greens. Be mesmerized by the banana flowers. Say hello to Jethu's favorite vendors. Feel how heavy the market bag gets.

Notice the cracks on the aged kitchen floor and think about the longevity of this food tradition. Watch as Jethu carefully carves each miniature onion into a perfect slice using a giant machete. Observe how the most expensive fish is marinated in gold (turmeric). Feel the deep sense of joy that Boroma emits through her eyes when she serves you her food. And don't forget to ask for second and third helpings...eating one roti is not exceptable at Boroma's table. Cao!* 

 

*Jethu: eldest brother on father's side

*Boroma: eldest sister-in-law on father's side

*Hilsa: a species of fish in the herring family that is very popular in Bengali cuisine.

*Cao!: Bengali command for "eat!"