Culture manifests itself in myriad ways and it wouldn’t be erroneous to state that amongst the key representations of a people, a race or a tradition, food occupies pride of place in the cultural hierarchy. Dinner diplomacy may be a tad trite in its intent and perceived accomplishment but food as a key catalyst in bringing people together is an established fact of life.
This is very true of the food served during wedding ceremonies because the act of matrimony is also based on the idea of two people and their families uniting as one. The gastronomical spread at weddings was tied very strongly to the culture of the two sets of people that were getting married. The notion however, is now in the process of a gradualbut definite change.
“With the widespread influence of social media andease of accessibility over smartphones, the overall perspective and thought process of clienteles over wedding menus has changed dramatically,” says Chef Arnab Pal, Chef de Cuisine, Events, at the Grand Hyatt Goa. “Previously, wedding food quintessentially revolved around the diverse spectrum of Indiancuisine with some influence of elementary westernfood. But over the last 5 years, the focus has drifted towards global cuisine and guests are willing to experiment around with unexplored tastes and ingredients rather than keeping things local and just following tried and tested recipes.”
So, where is the wedding palate headed now? “People are looking for more interaction, more conversation and more engagement for their guests,” says Ganesh Patil, Chef de Cuisine, Le Meridien, Goa. “We often see them shying away from the typical wedding cake or traditional thalis and going for a more memorable food presentation with out-of-the-box ideas. From grilled cheese and tomato soup in a shot glass to shrimp in a tasting spoon or oysters on a bed of dry ice,they are looking for a food experience that is off-the-limits.”
It is a classic case of the more the things change, the more they remain the same because while the food itself might be undergoing a metamorphosis, the reason behind it remains steadfastly the same. Social interaction and cultural integration have formed the basis of the act of breaking bread together and they continue to be reinforced in celebrations. “The concept has moved away from traditional linearbuffet,” explains Chef Sidney Dcunha, Executive Chef at Conrad Pune. “Couples want to bring in flavours of different destinations to their buffet table. Foodis one of the most integral factors of a wedding that leaves a lasting impression on guests, so weddings now aim to have the most unique display of food.”
From appam with Thai curries to dosa with schezwan to guacamole bars and bite-sized spaghetti arabiata on forks, wedding cuisine is in the thick of a comprehensive process of reinvention. Its raison d’etre however, continues to be socio-cultural integration and that certainly calls for celebration.