Yesterday at Spice Harbour I got to participate for the first time in an Independence Day flag raising ceremony.
It’s a good time to tip our hats to history. On August 15, 1947, after centuries of British imperialism, India gained independence. I am no expert on the Indian Independence movement so I won’t speak to it too much, but I know there were many political organizations and philosophies behind it that were united by their desire to end British rule. Mohandas Gandhi’s nonviolent philosophy and civil disobedience is what led the final parts of the struggle for independence that prompted the eventual withdrawal of the British. Since we’re talking about colonial India, we can put Kerala and Spice Harbour into historical context.
The Portuguese exploration to India led by Vasco de Gama in the late 15th century landed on the Malabar Coast of what is modern day Kerala. The Dutch and the British came to challenge the Portuguese’s monopoly on the Spice trade. Spain was also looking for the Malabar Coast but didn’t make it due to an unforeseen land mass, often called “the new world”.
Going further back to more ancient times, we can get a taste for the food concept at the Spice Harbour restaurant, “51”. Egyptians came to Southern India for pepper, as it was an important ingredient in embalming. The Phoenicians were an ancient Semitic civilization along the coastline of the Eastern Mediterranean that were maritime traders who also came to the Malabar Coast. With the cultivation of the spice and silk routes, Persians and others followed. The cuisine at “51” has a lot of Eastern Mediterranean ingredients and influences with South Indian cuisine and spices used to represent the intersection of cultures that happened here historically. The use of savory spices in sweet dishes, and vice versa, is an example. However one describes it, I think it’s delicious. Come see for yourself!