The menu has beef, pork, fish and vegetarian dishes too — an eclectic choice of culinary spread representing the nation’s food diversity.
It’s not a restaurant but a food festival at College Square in north Kolkata on Friday where one can sit down to taste all these and more in a show of unity and protest rising incidents of intolerance in the country.
A group of Left-leaning students and youth will organise the event and it is already campaigning through social media, although the programme is being organised under no specific banner. While some are associated with Left student organisations, many are into independent filmmaking, poetry and other creative endeavours.
The event comes at a time of rising polarisation over people’s choice of food, especially Hindu radicals aggressively pushing for a nationwide ban on cow slaughter and beef while Muslim hardliners demanding similar curbs on pork.
The programme on November 6 is seen as a response to criticism from the right-wing camp that wanted to know why the beef festival in Kolkata’s Esplanade last Friday did not feature pork —indirectly mocking at the organisers of being pro-Muslim.
The Esplanade programme saw CPI(M) face and former Kolkata mayor Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharyya and pro-Trinamool poet Subodh Sarkar offering beef to each another.
“The primary reason for organising this festival is to protest beef ban in different parts of the country and incidents like the Dadri lynching (where a Muslim man was killed by a mob on the suspicion of cow slaughter). But it is not just about beef. We want to say people should be free to consume any food of their choice, be it beef, pork, fish or vegetarian,” said Jul Mukherjee, an organiser.
Co-organiser Raktim Ghosh promised that paneer would be served to those who stay away from non-veg items. “Let’s not fight in the kitchen.”
Entry is free and no food coupon is required or will be offered. The organisers will bring cooked food to the fair and hope to meet the demand they said people could bring their share and contribute to the cause.
“We’ll protest even if there is a ban on pork. A large number of tribals living in different parts of the country consume pork,” Mukherjee said.