Saturday, May 11, 2013

Stories from the past

Filhos  Banana pancakes
While the first year anniversary Of the Goan Culinary Club brought back memories of the traditional tea time ‘favorites’ - Filhos, Manos, Atoll, Alla Belle, Sheviyo with jaggery, and Kongyeo with gur.(jaggery), one can but wonder what the common man ate on his/her day to day routine when the palate craved for something substantial. Did the poie grace the table all the time? Or could there be a sweet substitute…a sort of ‘sweet’ styled bread…one preparation stood out- the Manos.  No pretensions of being a lip smacking creation - looking at it one will not see it as an appealing snack either ‘presentation wise’ or ‘taste wise’ when pitted against the Filhos (banana pancake) and the Kongyeo with gur (sweet potato with jaggery). So we were compelled to ask our host Mr Peter Fernandes of O Coqueiro as to why he put this preparation on this day.

‘It brings back memories,’ he says, ‘my grandmother would have it on the table constantly. Even when we travelled to market or for any work– distances were great and ‘time’ depended on circumstances .To take a bus, we had to walk from home in Pilerne village to O Coqueiro junction. It was a long way, so my grandmother would have a bottle (an old liquor bottle) of tea and the Manos tied up for the journey. We would stop on the way and take a sip of tea and a bite of the Manos as refreshments,’ he smiles at the memory. ‘In fact even when we were waiting at the doctor’s dispensary for our medicine (and it would take a long time) she would whisk out that bottle for that needy sip and a bite of the Manos.’
Considered to be very common for breakfast and tea in the past, we asked panel member Chef Urbano Rego about this preparation. ‘It was served during the litany at the village cross and after the wedding when the husband visited the brides home too’ he remarks. Says Maria de Lourdes Bravo da Costa Rodrigues’besides a tea time snack I remember seeing it served for ros too.’

So is Manos easy to make? ‘No,’ remarks Peter. And this was something that graced all homes in the past. Made of rice, coconut and jiggery the process is long and time consuming. The pre preparation of soaking itself is overnight (approx 12 hours) and one hour of preparation time. How did the ladies of the house mange it? The methodology of soaking, grating, mixing, cooking, baking…well somehow our forefathers used all the methods of cooking in this preparation.
When competing with the ‘quick fix’ snacks of our time …the ready to eat fried stuff in packets perhaps we should learn a lesson or two from the past when it comes to a healthy living. No sugar, produce from the field and the ‘fresh’ aspect of consumption. Prepared in the night, the manos was eaten for breakfast and the leftovers finished over tea. No preservatives, no long ‘shelf life’…all fresh.

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