Malu paan and elovalu roti, from kade
Recently, the government has made wheat flour something of a nationalist issue. Schools canteens have been told to serve ‘local’ rice and pulse based stuff and not the usual patties and rolls. Because those are based on wheat, and wheat is imported. I would venture that we also import rice, and that chili and tea cultivation was brought here by colonials, but what’s the point. I think there are things it might serve a better end to put the nationalist spin on. Tobacco imports, for example. Or the proclivity of MPs like Mervyn Silva to blow public money on foreign cars. But wheat? Really?
One of the greatest things about Sri Lanka is paang. Or, literally, bread. Unlike the homogenized, perfunctory loaf of sliced bread you get at supermarkets, this is a real hunk of bread. It’s baked fresh and available at any bakery or corner store. It’s great on its own, or with hodi, or with whatever you have on head. I just had paang and leftover potatoes, for example. A loaf costs Rs. 48 last I bought one and it’s good. I do find the bread not ideal for sandwiches, but it is ideal for soaking up gravy.
This is not to mention malu paan, or bunice, or kimbula bunice, or any number of wheat based products we have made as much our own as cricket. This is what Wimal Weerawansa calls wheat terrorism, foreign forces trying to disrupt our food security. Um, no. They still serve plenty of wheat based products in Parliament. Everyone should just have an apple cake, plain tea, watch the cricket and enjoy the benefits of living in an island nation, influenced by many ideas but still uniquely our own.