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Foodies unite: Kunal Vijayakar is all praise for food groups on Facebook

Kunal Vijayakar on the social media pages dedicated to food.

HT48HRS_Special Updated: Feb 25, 2017 12:16 IST
HT48Hours
Pork dumplings, shared by a member on The Porkaholics(Photo courtesy: The Porkaholics)

Do I need to say that eating is a multisensory experience? All our senses, including a few we may not even be aware of, kick in when in the company of food. A meal should be gustatory (tasty), visual, cognitive, tactile, and oftentimes aural. To put it simply, food should look good, feel good, sound good. Texture, temperature and often the phonetics — a good crunch or a crackle — add to the gratification.

Besides these palpable senses, mood, company, environment and a plethora of emotions, come into play. Another emotion that matters is the need to share. They say we share because we look for appreciation. And appreciation is our ego’s deepest need. In the old days, you shared meals. Now we share pictures of that meal.

READ MORE: Weekend Menu: Kunal Vijayakar on the advent of Chinese food in Mumbai

So, a perfect meal is not complete unless you take a few pictures and share them on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, to count the appreciation. We have all been guilty of this need for attention. But all this narcissism has created the most interesting food media phenomenon: the Facebook food group.

A bacon delicacy, shared on The Porkaholics (Photo courtesy: The Porkaholics)

What, in all probability, started off as an attempt to impress others, or to enhance your popularity is now a chance to explore new food worlds. A bunch of like-minded people, with common food interests form a closed or public group on Facebook. Here, members share pictures, emotions, recipes, experiences, insights, secrets and start conversations.

One such group on Facebook is Angat Pangat — a secret group dedicated to rediscovering Maharashtrian cuisine. One of the admins, Saee Koranne-Khandekar, is a talented baker, whose book Crumbs! is a runaway success. The group members posts pictures, recipes and tidbits about the variety of foods, cultural influences and flavours of Maharashtra. You can find a bharda bhaji from Marathwada; kunda from Belgaum; or jharas (a winter weed) found only in Vasai-Virar.

The group is strict about its content, and has a clear warning: ‘Please do not post any tandoori chicken or pasta pictures.’

South west grilled pork shared by a member of The Porkaholics (Photo courtesy: The Porkaholics)

The Porkoholics, as the name suggests, is a Facebook group about pork lovers. Explore the pages and you discover that you can eat almost every part of the animal— hams, ribs, feet, back, innards, skin, head, brains, knuckles, cheeks — even the tail. The page is populated with pictures and recipes made at home, eaten in restaurants, discovered on travel, or passed on by friends. From a simple ham sandwich, to roasting the whole pig, split in two, over a pit filled with smoldering wood, the group is a tribute to this meat.

To add fat to fire, four members of this group have started another Facebook page called Hokus Porkus. Four home chefs — Rhea Mitra-Dalal, Gitika Saikia, Subhasree Basu and Madhumita Pyne — hold pork events, pop-ups and cook pork dishes as diverse as their backgrounds.

I just received a sampling from the foursome. Pork pot pie, Parsee pork vindaloo, Assamese pork sesame, Sri Lankan black pork curry. One pork dish each, from these four kitchens. The pie had pork cooked with green apples and celery in a flaky pastry; the pork curry piqued with the sharpness of pepper and dark roasted curry powder. The Parsi vindaloo was tangy and sweet. To mop up with bread and rice.

For lack of space I’ve been able to feature just these, to start off with. In the meanwhile, I’m willing to be an animal for slaughter if anyone else wants me to try out their food.

Kunal Vijayakar.

Author and TV show host Vijayakar is “always hungry”. He tweets as @kunalvijayakar