Ethical Feast, Udaipur, Rajasthan, India

Fri, 04/12/2009 – John Brisbin

Conversations around food -Ethical Feast in and around Udaipur 17th to 25th November 2009, presented by our webmaster and Feast organiser and major funder, John Brisbin

Clearly, many of us have strong ideas about the recipe for a better world. It’s the challenge of ‘being the change’ that I find most fascinating in this gathering.

 

IMAGE This is where it starts – in the field flexing your muscles. Here hay is gathered for the animals near Chandwas village, near Jarol, two hours by car from Udaipur.

 

IMAGE These are the fields where the feast was grown. You can see mustard and young winter wheat. A large dam, purportedly for the distant city of Udaipur and unwanted by the locals, was completed in 2005. It flooded out 852 villagers and killed these trees.

 

India is a reality unto itself. Yet there are signs everywhere that India embodies the same edgy, alarming sense of imbalance seen elsewhere in the world. Farmland is eroding, cities are growing faster than pond scum, and the hot breath of material appetite is acrid on the nose. Yet amongst it all are the sublime reservoirs of cool stillness, the upright fullness of people living well, and the free-flowing beauty of existential certainty.

 

IMAGE Preparing the chutney, a fresh paste of coriander and other herbs, with spices.

As Craig San Roq says in the fabulous allegory ‘Dante’s Nest’ which he contributed to the Feast:

Now it is time for dinner. After all a Mystery is simply this; to give delicious form to the movement of love, sustainment to the becoming of love, the gravid powers of enduring love, despite the spider bite, the poison and pestilence in the city above.

 

IMAGE Caro, Varsha and John Brisbin tucking in at Ethical Feast number two in Chandwas, near Udaipur.

Here the village of Chandwas fed 600, when only 300 were expected. Chapatis of their own wheat, subjee (curry) of vegetables, spinach of Chenopodium spp (a weed of the fields), buttermilk soup with dhal, pickle of lime all served on the floor on leaf plates.

 

IMAGE Here Caro and Varsha help prepare the Cheel spinach dish.

 

IMAGE Boys peeling the taro for the subjee

 

IMAGE Village woman mixes up the chappatis from home-grown wheat.

 

IMAGE Heating the clay pan over precious firewood for the chappatis.

IMAGE Resting between preparations.