Peter Kuruvita‘s ‘My Sri Lanka‘ recently screened on Australia’s SBS network. I’ve only seen bits on YouTube but what I dig is the amazing setups. He’s able to cook on the beach, in the hills, places where I can barely open a bag of chips. The recipe above is for fried fish and a simple salad. I think he just caught the fish and it looks delicious.
Sri Lankan food is amazing, on the recent MasterChef Australia there was a Sri Lankan contestant and a pretty regular rice and curry won the Dalai Lama contest. It hasn’t quite evolved to high cuisine here, there’s a pretty big slide from average rural/urban kade food (amazing, cheap) to a middle class rice and curry (usually greasy, expensive and le bad) and it never really picks up. I’ve heard of kiribath sushi and stuff but never seen it happening. Nuga Gama in the Cinnamon Grand Hotel is supposed to be good, but I still can’t get over the faux village in the shadow of a star hotel thing.
Uh, anyways, what Mr. Kuruvita seemed to do was go around and prepare local food in the locality, on the beach, on the ground, in clay pots, as naturally and lovingly as possible. Watching the preview above, I’m struck by how damn beautiful and colorful the country is. I forget sometimes, I spend a lot of time in Colombo thinking about the rough edges of development without looking at the natural bounty we have.
So, thanks to Mr. Kuruvita and SBS for showing themselves and Oz a different side of Sri Lanka besides warzone and refugee dump. I think he got some flak in the Aussie press for not following the usual drone of negativity about the country, but he responded well on Facebook.
Please don’t think that I walk mindlessly through a nostalgic string of memories and pretend nothing happened.
Of course there was a war, hundreds of thousands died, people were displaced buildings were destroyed and lives were ruined.
I insisted that we go to Jaffna and the east, as originally it was to be a six part series and Jaffna and the east was to be left for another time.
With the help of many people,including the people of Jaffna,we got permission to film in areas that were closed to film crews for 20 years.
What I saw was the aftermath of war, scarred bodies and destroyed buildings.
But there was also some thing else..a strength of character and pride to be from Jaffna, the city was vibrant and full of character.
I felt privileged to be invited into people’s homes, churches and temples.
We were treated with suspicion from all sides, but after three weeks living the Jaffna life we were accepted and welcomed.
In the last four episodes of the show you will see the area, it was impossible to hide from the scars of that long war, but my aim was to bring out the pride all Sri Lankan’s have for food, and some how bring people together with one thing that all Sri Lankan’s are unified about, passion and respect for their food.
I truly believe that for the short time I managed to talk food with people they forgot, just for a few minutes, of the suffering and hard ship and instead beamed with pride and joy when we talked food.
That has to be a good thing hasn’t it?
It is a good thing, and it looks like a great show. The outdoor kitchens along are amazing, and the cinematography is pretty boss. It’s geoblocked for me (why?) but I think if you’re in Oz you can watch it online. Sri Lanka is an amazing place and one of the unifying things about this nation is the food. I think the next episode is Sigiriya, on November 10th.