Day 11: Fishy Talk

So I have completed ten days of daily blogging which is around one third of the month!! Phew!! and Yayy!!

Now coming to the topic, let me narrate an incident.

One evening, on our way to a shopping complex, I stopped at a pharmacy store. While I was inside, my Dad called on my mobile and we conversed in Bengali. After the call ended, the shopkeeper asked me ” Are you a Bengali or Oriya?” (Now the population of both Bongs and Oriya people is high in Bangalore and Kannadigas can’t tell the difference). The conversation proceeded like this

Me : Bengali

Shopkeeper: Oh! How do you like the food here? It is very different from what you people eat.

Me: We don’t have to eat South Indian food much as at home we don’t cook that and outside there are so many restaurants which serve North Indian food.

Shopkeeper: But Bengalis eat too much fish no? All of you ‘grow’ fish at home and when you feel like eating it, you just take it and cook it up like sabzi no? (cooked vegetable side dish in Indian menu)

Me reeling from anger and sarcasm: No no it is nothing like that. Fish are cultured in villages and supplied to cities..

Then I trailed off because I knew he believed this strongly and no amount of myth busting is going help the matter. I had felt like asking him “You South Indians eat too much of rice items no? All of you must be having paddy plants in your home and when you need it, you cut it and thresh it and use it in dosa, idlli and what not.”👿

Yes it is true that Bengalis love to eat fish and so does the Mallu. But why on earth everybody has all the misconceptions and jokes about Bengalis only? Bongs do not eat fish for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Though Bengalis love fish, there are many (like D, my MIL, my SIL) who do not like fish at all. They can survive well without eating fish for months. And then there are fish lovers like me. For me fish is like staple diet because in my family and extended family we have fish almost daily at both lunch and dinner. But hearing that why people get shocked is what I don’t understand. When you can have sambhar/rasam daily, Bongs can have fish daily. But that doesn’t mean we grow fish in some personal aquariums for daily use like vegetables!!

Non veg food is not an exclusive, occasional and special thing for us. It is our way of life, a part of our culture, our history and our inheritance. So please stop asking me “Oh you have non veg daily–aaa?” Fish is just not a food for us. It is a symbol of the bounty of nature has provided to our land. It is also a sacred thing and is an integral part of Bengali weddings. Fish (as large as possible) is exchanged on both groom and bride sides and it is decorated like a bride or groom depending from which side it is being gifted.

And please stop being a hypocrite by advocating the advantages of vegetarianism and then eating eggs. Stop telling how “pure” veg are you and then go on to eat cake containing egg. Maybe I should collect all these and other examples and write a post “Egg – The New Vegetable”

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And just for increasing knowledge about fish, here are few health facts.

Fish is a superfood. Packed with vitamins and minerals, and a major source of omega-3 fatty acids, fish can help to protect against a range of diseases, from cancer to heart disease, depression to arthritis.

Asthma – children who eat fish may be less likely to develop asthma.

Brain and eyes – fish rich in omega 3 fatty acids can contribute to the health of brain tissue and the retina (the light-sensitive tissue lining the inner surface of the eye).

Cancer – the omega 3 fatty acids in fish may reduce the risk of many types of cancers by 30 to 50 per cent, especially of the oral cavity, oesophagus, colon, breast, ovary and prostate.

Cardiovascular disease – eating fish every week reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke by reducing blood clots and inflammation, improving blood vessel elasticity, lowering blood pressure, lowering blood fats and boosting ‘good’ cholesterol.

Dementia – elderly people who eat fish or seafood at least once a week may have a lower risk of developing dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.

Depression – people who regularly eat fish have a lower incidence of depression (depression is linked to low levels of omega 3 fatty acids in the brain).

Diabetes – fish may help people with diabetes manage their blood sugar levels.

Eyesight – breastfed babies of mothers who eat fish have better eyesight, perhaps due to the omega 3 fatty acids transmitted in breast milk.

Inflammatory conditions – regular fish consumption may relieve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and autoimmune disease.

Prematurity – eating fish during pregnancy may help reduce the risk of delivering a premature baby.

Healthy ways to enjoy fish include baked, poached, grilled and steamed forms.

Source Medindia.

Further reading

Being Bong: Busting Myths

P.S. I a fish lover married in a non fish eater family will make a separate post in itself. Sigh!! That sad saga some other day. And I don’t want to even begin the discussion on attitudes of “pure” veg people.

8 thoughts on “Day 11: Fishy Talk

  1. I agree with all the health benefit of the fishes, but what’s that ritual of decorating a dead fish and exchanging it during a wedding signify? It’s like mocking/making fun of the very existence of a life that has been killed. What all goes in the name of culture!!

    Destination Infinity
    PS: I am generally not against non-vegetarians, but I don’t like this mocking tamasha. Why do people want to make a scene out of a poor fish?

    • It is a symbol of fertility and how can we make fun of a thing which is a very essential part of our culture, our upbringing? Its not making a scene…it symbolises that how important it is for us, how sacred we consider it! Your comment exactly conveys what I am trying to say. why is it so hard to wrap your head around another culture? how easy to say “what all goes in the name of culture” instead of trying to understand the history, how the region developed, what were the available resources in ancient times, how rituals are actually based on the type of region and its resources etc. Thats why India stands divided and will always be. How easy to call it a “mocking tamasha” and “scene”!! Wish we would try to learn more than just judge, develop prejudices and bad mouth another culture.

  2. Hi Reema,

    I so wanted to read your post but every time I try to read it this is the message I get. Please help Well this is somewhat embarrassing, isnt it?

    It seems we cant find what youre looking for. Perhaps searching, or one of the links below, can help.

    Have a nice day ahead and Keep Smiling Thanks and Regards SWATI

  3. Indians can be very hypocritical with one another. Its sad but very true fact. People rather mock others than truly taking the time to understand the fact that every culture is different, and THAT IS OK. Acceptance is tough for many but prejudices also never cease to exist. Sometimes I wonder, are we truly a 21st century being?

    And all the “fanda” about vegetarianism ticks me off. Big time.

  4. Generalizing is something we all fight on a daily basis! .. And talking about fish, here is something from last week.

    1 km away from my house is the Arabian sea and fish is what we eat most days back home. When I visit supermarkets in Bangalore, I see many who enter the fish stall with their nose covered, and remain so till they get their pack and walk outside. And me? I walk in, close my eyes, breath a awful lot of air in and remember my home🙂

    And there is my cousin brother whose house is just 3 or 4 km from mine. He works at a hospital here in Bangalore. He brought me a pack of gloves and masks to use while cleaning and cutting fish. Ah!! I don’t want to spoil my experience with your plastic and rubber pieces buddy!!!!

  5. I think every individual’s opinion need not represent the whole community as such.Similarly ignorance or intolerance of a few cannot probably be extended to encompass a majority as a whole.It is just a humorous interlude which should be taken as such and left at that.
    Advantages or disadvantages of a particular food habit are a very personal choice and people, For instance, a vegetarian’s view of food is what he or she endorses and need not be extrapolated to show all non-vegetarian’s in a bad light and vice-versa.Having said that, the association of a particular food habit to a more ‘pure’ or ‘impure’ way of life is what is to be deplored.
    I think our culture diversity is to be enjoyed and savored for the different flavors it brings. Don’t you think so🙂

  6. Oh I love my fish too🙂 and me being a keralite.. the whole world believes that we have non veg from breakfast to lunch to dinner. It can be chicken, seafood, mutton or beef. It is true that we eat all this, and more, but why make such assumptions that would shall not pass down our gut without any of these items!

    Uff… people I say!

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