Monday, 4 August, 2008

Femisnist Critique of Sapphire's 'My (Lamenting) Ode to Puchka'

Before you read this dear reader ( if you are reading this at all, that is) you have to read Sapphire's 'My (Lamenting) Ode to Puchka' at Only then will this make sense to you.
Puchka is a street snack of Kolkata belonging to the family of pani puris and gol gappas. It is a small wheat ball, deep fried, really crisp. So what puchkawallas do is that they prick a hole on that ball and stuff it with mashed potato which in itself is mixed with salt, rock salt, tamarind juice, lemon juice, fried jeera powder, channas/chola/beans and fresh dhonepata/dhaniapatta/coriander leaves. After stuffing these balls with this potato concoction they then dip it in tamarind water which has been prepared with masala and then they serve you in a shal patta (leaf cups). Even thinking about it makes my mouth water. You have to stand in a row in front of the puchkawala and he goes clockwise or anticlockwise depending on his position from behind his stall.
By now you must have guessed this is a food of extreme taste--once a puchka goes inside your mouth you immediately are assaulted by tikha (hot) and khatta (sour). Apart from that you have to be really coordinated in your eating, you have to know just when to munch and when to swallow the water. One mistake and the puchkas have the capacity to burn your taste bud and the water can enter the wrong pipe.
For some reason, it is a predominantly women's snack. A few brave men have learnt to enjoy the taste but on the whole it is still female dominated. Who said is it easy to break gender domination?
Men complain that women usually force feed them puchkas, but men forget is that we, the women usually like doing things together so naturally if defies our logic that he will be standing while 'I' will be eating. But women like me have learnt the hard way how resistant men can be to good things in life. So we prefer puchka eating with girl friends who are way more fun.
Sapphire says "And talking about standing and watching you when you eat it, believe me you do not look cute when you are trying to stuff your mouth with more food than you can chew and tokjol running down your chin and dripping all over. Thats not the end of it! You want the phuchkawala to add more of every spice that make up the unholy concoction. Believe me my friend, it is such a turn off to have a date drooling over spicy roadside junk for half an hour and her breath reeking of rock salt and tamarind. You smell sultry. Do you think any of the above does anything to add to your grace and poise? And then you expect me to look at you as the most adorable piece among all of God's creations."
Trust men to try and find sensual pleasure/poise/grace in so tiny a thing as puchka eating. Oh when will men grow up? For your information dear men when we, the women, eat puchkas we are already in the throes of immense pleasure and the last thing we think is whether the man beside us is giving us lovely dovey looks or thoughts. For those 10 minutes our mind becomes blank of all thoughts and we are gripped by puchka fever.
So men if you cannot participate, kindly back off and let women be just themselves and enjoy their puchkas in peace.


  1. :) hehe i like the last line in the blog..
    i have tasted these and i love it...but i know a lot of men who like it too

  2. arrey boss i totally agree, what makes these men think that when in their company we do everything to appeal to them??? pooh!!!! nahin khana mat khao, hum toh aise hain bhaiya!! bring on the puchka, pani puri, gol gappa and the likes.

  3. Wow.....Suchi, you can let sail a thousand ships in my mouth and they shall drown in the amount of drool I am spilling out........ And well said Anubha....I am totally sold on your comment......

  4. lets have a puchka party gals ;)

  5. Dear blog owner and all above,

    Your reaction to my post leaves me with no other choice but to rise to the occasion and defend my holy brotherhood.

    First of all, the men I represent, are equalists. We do not believe in men being better than women or the other way round. All of your posts reek of exclusionistic attitude, which we notice with awe, and wonder, "Is this what feminism is all about?" And then we pray to God for your perpetual well-being.

    If you think that we, men, cannot appreciate delicate flavours, please remember that the longest running cookery show in Indian television is run by a man. Why go so far, please grace my blog with a visit and check out on the food posts.

    You would have noticed that my main point is about the illusions that women suffer from, not the fact that they like to eat phuchka. You like it, you eat it. Please allow me my freedom of choice and don't make a big deal out of it.

    And my words about how you look while ceremoniously eating phuchka is a glimpse of reality. If that pinches you, I would believe it is because of the truth in my statement. And again, I allow you your freedom to be what you want. All I am asking in return is, don't be a chafe when we watch a football match, or do not shave or shower over the weekends and throw dirty socks on the bed.

    Both you and us are equal mortals and full of follies, so Ms. Blog Owner, its now my turn to ask you to grow up and stop looking at us with an upturned nose. Instead, how about settling on an ice cream, or a cheesecake, where we can enjoy together?

    On behalf of my brotherhood,

    [P.S. All of the above are written in a spirit of good humor and playfulness. Apologies if I have hurt feelings]

  6. no where ice creams or cheese cakes are mentioned there can be no hard feelings involved :)

  7. Dear Blog owner and Mr pucchka hater: I have a lot to say to this comment, but something tells me that I am going to be hearing or reading quite a bit of you and therefore I will gracefully display restraint:-)

  8. Dear Anugem,

    Restraint is a great virtue, specially when retreat is inevitable. I solemnly accept your graceful exit.

    In eager expectation of crossing pens in near future,

    Yours truly,

  9. ok, i have a feeling anubha is not going to let that go sapphire. and she should not as well, you are way going out of your way to provoke her.

    to both anubha and sapphire, you both have your own blogs, kindly fight there, leave my space alone.

  10. I just dont know what to say ms. blog owner!!! and oh mr. sapphire.. aage aage dekho hota hai kya!

  11. eki! okomaan!! inshult!!! goladhakka!!!!! cholo anubha amra dujon e kothao chole jai!!!

  12. sapphire u would need to translate that invitation to anubha in english...anubha cant read bangla...though she does try to sing 'ekla chole re' once in a while...


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